December 2023 Vol. 78 No.11

Editor's Log

Editor’s Log: And then reality sunk in

(UI) — Recently, a group of nearly 4,000 auto dealers known as "EV Voice of the Customer" sent a letter to the Biden Administration urging it to slow proposed regulations that would require that two-thirds of new vehicles sold in the U.S. be electric by 2032. The group claims this mandate is unrealistic given the waning EV demand. In the letter, the dealers stress that they believe customers are not interested in EVs.

The letter stresses that while electric vehicles are ideal for many people and that EVs’ appeal will grow in time but, for now, current regulations are forcing dealers into the electric demand that is not supported by the market. In fact, the letters states that battery-powered electric vehicles are “stacking up on our lots.” 

In the letter, the dealers stress that they believe “early adopters have already purchased their EVs, and now, enthusiasm has stalled.” Yet, because of the government regulations, dealers are getting a larger influx of EVs, which exceeds current demand. 

According to the dealership group, there are several barriers that remain to be cleared before more customers are open to purchasing an EV. Some of these barriers include high purchase prices, charging station availability, and reduced range in extreme weather conditions or when towing. 

“Many of these challenges can and will be addressed by our manufacturers, but many of these challenges are outside of their control," the letter says. "Reliable charging networks, electric grid stability, sourcing of materials, and many other issues need time to resolve. And finally, many people just want to make their own choice about what vehicle is right for them.” 

The dealers are asking Biden to relax the proposed regulations to allow for more time for technological barriers to be addressed. The dealers also say they feel more patience is needed to get American car buyers comfortable with the idea of purchasing an electric vehicle. 

In this column I’ve often criticized the electric vehicle industry and its government supporters, who are forcing a market upon us flush with problems rather than working with industry to find solutions first. Looks like even the auto industry, with many millions of expensive EVs sitting on their lots collecting dust, agree. 

In defense of plastic pipes

In the underground infrastructure realm, plastic piping, conduit and related products are essential to solving market needs. Plastic piping systems are sustainable and environmentally responsible because they are energy-efficient during manufacturing and provide protection from contamination during service.  

Strong, durable, lightweight and flexible, these piping systems require considerably less energy to manufacture, transport and install than metal or concrete alternatives. With superior resistance to corrosion and abrasion, plastic piping systems also provide a long service life, excellent joint performance and relatively leak-free protection. 

However, recently corporations, municipalities and even federal agencies are proposing and implementing bans on single-use plastic products. The same businesses that once benefitted from public excitement over plastics are increasingly feeling public pressure to use alternatives. All this comes about as environmental zealots continue their campaign to strike at anything they deem contrary to their green goals. 

Democrats in Washington are now bringing back a comprehensive plastics legislation aimed at reducing single-use plastics, eliminating toxic substances in packaging, and strengthening environmental justice provisions. 

The Plastic Pipe Institute’s response to this latest round of nonsense is that America doesn’t have a “plastics problem;” it has a recycling problem. The association and industry partners are pushing to reinvigorate stagnant recycling efforts across the country and thus eliminate most, if not all, of the issues associated with plastics, especially single-use pipes and conduits. Read more about this issue in Eben Wyman’s Inside Infrastructure column on page XX. 

The Great Unveil  

If you’re reading this, you’ve now successfully opened the first full-on digital version of Underground Infrastructure magazine in our new PageRaft format. Hopefully, you’ve already become someone adapted to how this system works. 

All editorial pages now scroll vertically, allowing us to include all kinds of quality content, pictures, charts and graphs without limitation. I can’t tell you how many articles we’ve had to trim or pictures to leave out in order to fit in a traditional print version. Those days are gone. Our content now goes basically up, down and sideways. In a nutshell, editorial space for Underground Instructure is now essentially infinite. 

I’m old school and very much used to just turning the page for not only print editions, but the now antiquated “flipbook” digital formats. No longer. The continually evolving world of digital applications has dramatically improved our presentation capabilities and ease of readership, whether on your desktop, laptop, tablet or phone. 

Now, I’m not saying we’ll suddenly start publishing vignettes simply because length of stories is no longer a barrier. We’ll still edit articles to our professional style and eliminate superfluous or unnecessary verbiage to maintain editorial standards. But if a story contains such volumes of interesting and informative text or larger quantities of applicable pictures, charts or graphs that deserve additional space, we now have the ability to accommodate that at will. 

We will still want our articles to be concise, informative and beneficial. That’s also why our editors all come from a professional journalism background rather than simply being content generators, as is the trend today. If you just want random content designed to promote a particular product or perspective, you still won’t find that on the pixel pages of Underground Infrastructure.  

We publish the news and intelligence – even in our new digital format – that touches your professional livelihoods. As always, we will learn and grow together. 

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