Government overreach is threatening consumer choice in automobile markets. Through a mix of mandates and subsidies, state and federal governments are forcing electric vehicles into the market. At the same time, intrusive regulations are making it increasingly expensive to continue manufacturing vehicles with internal combustion engines.
In April, the Biden administration proposed new federal regulations on tailpipe emissions, which would require 67% of all new cars sold in the U.S. to be fully electric vehicles by 2032. As of fall 2023, nine states had committed to banning the sale of new gasoline-powered vehicles after 2035.
Free markets provide effective and efficient solutions to problems facing public policy. So it’s important to preserve consumer choice and limited government. Because of this, the Mackinac Center has joined the Save Our Cars Coalition as it advocates for a market-driven solution that gives consumers the final say on what cars — and what means of powering them — are available.
The Save Our Cars Coalition was formed to fight back against the subversion of consumer choice and to advocate for a return to free-market policies. It also calls for ending disruptive subsidies and mandates in the automotive industry.
The Save Our Cars Coalition calls itself “a group of national and state-based organizations committed to safeguarding American consumers’ freedom to choose the car or truck that perfectly suits their needs.” Government regulations can play a role in ensuring that cars meet basic safety standards. But automakers should be motivated primarily by the desire to meet consumers’ demand for reliable and affordable transportation. Government interference is, instead, pushing manufacturers away from a focus on consumers toward ideological misconceptions about climate and efficiency.
Economist and author Thomas Sowell explains in his book Basic Economics that responding to customers who want cars that meet their wants and needs isn’t wasteful. Instead, it “is precisely what is supposed to happen in a price-coordinated economy because that is the most efficient behavior, with efficiency defined as the most effective way of satisfying people’s desires.”
When the government attempts to force consumers to accept a product that costs more and does not meet their needs, it is overruling consumer decisions. “The reduction in the number of personal vehicles has long been a goal of the left because automobiles provide a measure of personal mobility and autonomy that is fundamentally contrary to their vision of what they consider to be a well-ordered society,” the coalition’s website notes.
Limiting access to transportation options also fits well with the “15-Minute City.” This progressive Green effort promotes “urgent and deep decarbonization” and “a redefinition of some contemporary urban policies, especially around mobility.” The Save Our Cars Coalition will push back against these top-down intrusions to help safeguard consumer freedom.
The coalition is not opposed to electric vehicles, but it does take issue with heavy-handed government mandates and subsidies that pressure manufacturers into producing electric vehicles regardless of public demand. Instead, the coalition’s “belief centers on fostering a competitive market where innovation and consumer preference, not governments, drive product offering and promote a dynamic and responsive automobile industry.”
A market-driven automobile industry will focus on giving consumers the freedom to choose any vehicle that fits their needs and budget, free from government interference. Whether they want electric vehicles because they believe it will reduce emissions or prefer a large SUV to fit a growing family comfortably, consumers, not bureaucrats should have the ability to make that decision.
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The Mackinac Center for Public Policy is a nonprofit research and educational institute that advances the principles of free markets and limited government. Through our research and education programs, we challenge government overreach and advocate for a free-market approach to public policy that frees people to realize their potential and dreams.
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