Why Is Governor Walz trying to mandate cars that nobody wants?

Last week, I testified before a joint hearing of the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Finance Committee about the Walz administration’s desire to force Minnesotans to comply with California’s car mandates for low emission vehicles (LEVs) and zero emission vehicles (ZEVs).

During their testimonies, advocates of these new mandates claimed they are needed because there is a huge demand for some models of electric vehicles (EVs) that are not currently offered Minnesota, and that they would be offered here if the mandates went into effect.

However, survey data from CleanTechnica.com, which is a website dedicated to promoting renewables and electric vehicles, shows there is virtually no demand for the models that are not currently offered in Minnesota, and that these talking points are wrong.

The first thing to know about the market for electric vehicles is that is utterly dominated by Tesla, and no one else is even close. The graph below shows EV purchases by model for the year 2019. The Tesla Model 3 accounted for 63 percent of sales, all by itself, and as a whole, Tesla accounted for 78 percent of 2019 EV sales. The Chevy Bolt, the most popular non-Tesla EV, was only 6.7 percent of the EV market last year.

For reference, each and every one of the models featured in the chart above can be purchased in Minnesota by either going to the Tesla website, or a casual glance at Cars.com.

Now, it could be argued that these cars are the biggest sellers because they are more available than other EV’s, and not because they are the first choice of would-be EV consumers, but CleanTechnica’s surveys do not support this argument.

For example, the survey below polled current EV drivers and asked them what model EV they would be most likely to purchase next. As you can see, Tesla Model 3 and Model Y are the most popular choices, with a generic “other” making 13 percent. The Bolt, LEAF, and Kona constitute another 21 percent of the would-be EV market, and all are available in Minnesota.

After calling around to some car dealerships, I learned some of the vehicles on this list aren’t even being manufactured yet, such as the VW ID Buzz, ID Crozz, and the MINI Electric, but they will be available in Minnesota when they are released, so rule proponents can’t realistically argue that these models are reason to implement California’s car mandates onto Minnesotans.

Of the cars on this list that are not offered in Minnesota are the Kia Nero, the Kia Soul EV at 5 percent and 2 percent, respectively. This effectively means that proponents of the rules are arguing we need to adopt California’s mandates for the sake of the handful of people who may want KIA electric vehicles that currently don’t rank as top sellers in the EV market.

While proponents of these rules like to pretend that the reason they are advocating for more mandates is because of a large, pent-up consumer demand for them, or to expand consumer choice, this survey seriously undermines this argument. Every single electric car in the top eight sellers nationally is available for sale in Minnesota, and could be purchased today if the consumer is so inclined. Adopting California’s car regulations is not about consumer choice, it’s about control.