If governments could legislate technological breakthroughs, we would have conquered cancer decades ago.
Whatever your thoughts about alternative-powered vehicles, there are still plenty of technological challenges for them to survive in the marketplace.
Right now, governments across the world are mandating automobile performance levels that dictate using certain types of powerplants -- regardless of whether the industry has the necessary technology or the public has any interest in buying them.
There probably are plenty of legislators who would mandate steam-powered vehicles if they thought they could force the industry to reintroduce them.
Legislators and regulators -- some without any technological background -- are deciding which vehicles will be available for purchase based on their prejudices, not reality.
I am all in favor of choice. The more choices consumers have, the better. But I am not in favor of government-mandated products or government subsidies to support those products.
Soon we're going to see all sorts of federal and state subsidies for electric vehicles. Those subsidies will create an artificial market for vehicles that might not otherwise survive in the marketplace.
It's always fun to see brilliant engineering reach the marketplace in whatever form. But tax incentives blur the picture and postpone the inevitable time when a product has to stand on its own.
Some products that simply don't belong will reach the marketplace soon. They will survive, perhaps even prosper for a while, because of tax incentives. They will not survive if those tax incentives disappear.
For decades Europe has used taxes on fuel as a form of social engineering -- long before any concern about the finite supply of petroleum. Now many nations are using legislation to mandate technology that may not exist.
Too many so-called entrepreneurs claim that if the existing automotive industry doesn't do something, it's because automakers are too big. Rubbish.
Some electric vehicles will be introduced over the next few years with massive subsidies that will keep their companies alive. That's not success; it's life support.
Dealers, particularly, should be wary of becoming involved with companies that don't have long-term viability. If for whatever reason those companies disappear, dealers will bear the burden of taking care of the customers. That could become a real financial drain.