Lately, I’ve been covering most of the news items from the Big 3’s EV efforts. But, when big news of further future production cuts for the F-150 Lightning came up, I wasn’t sure exactly how to approach it. Fortunately, Zach Shahan went ahead and covered it for me that day, but I mentioned that seeing this story again is starting to feel a lot like the movie Groundhog Day.
The causes? They’re probably much the same as the last time we covered this. Interest rates. Slowing economic stuff. The usual. But, when bad news hits, there are also swarms of bots, fake YouTube channels, and foreign trollfarm accounts there to exaggerate the news and make potential EV buyers feel like the sky is falling.
There are various reasons coordinated hit campaigns like this happen, and their motivations are not always the same.
Some of the perps are in the employ of the Chinese and Russian governments. China would love to control the EV and battery industry, so it makes sense for the “50 Cent Party” to trash the U.S. domestic EV market. This would also benefit Russia, because they don’t want to be the only big country that China has by the marbles. Plus, if they can’t successfully kick us in the shins via their representatives in our Congress, letting the Chinese kick us in our marbles is the next best thing.
There are also all manner of domestic losers who want to see EVs fail for as long as possible. Oil companies want to sell more oil. The people who get donations from oil companies want to keep getting donations. There are also supposedly free market enthusiasts who don’t like free markets at all when the market does things they don’t like. And subsidies? Yeah, it’s only a problem when people they don’t like get them.
But, the weirdest class of propagandists is the EV fans who hate EVs. Yes, I’m talking about the Tesla stans who are eager to do anything to give their stock a pump. They think they’re doing themselves a favor by exaggerating the problems non-Tesla EVs face, but at the end of the day, the disinformation they spread ends up tarring the face of Tesla, too.
A related class of people here are the click-chasers. YouTubers, Twitter subscribers getting revenue, and many others want to make some bucks getting eyeballs. Telling the truth is great, but you just don’t get the clicks unless you can make a thumbnail for your video that’s going to catch those eyeballs. Doom! Gloom! It’s OVER! You LITERALLY CAN’T travel more than ten feet in anything but a Tesla!
But, this backfires. EV skeptics will see this and assume that all EVs are more risky. So, instead of skipping Chevy and going Tesla, they buy another ICE vehicle. Plus, there are left-leaning people who really want an EV, but now won’t consider a Tesla at all due to the behavior of the company’s most public face. So, trashing non-Tesla EVs puts them out of the market, too.
It wouldn’t be fair to put all of the blame on the people spreading disinformation and doing a crappy job of stonk pumping, because the kernels of truth for both economic headwinds and charging problems are definitely there, but like a piece of sand in a clam’s mouth, these little grains of truth end up growing into toxic pearls of non-wisdom that make the whole problem that much worse.
Complex Problems Require Complex Solutions
If we could pin all of the blame on one of the above things, life would be easier. If it was all economics, we could just wait that out. If it was all disinformation, that problem can be countered over time. If it was all EV fans shooting themselves in the foot, we could find a way to tackle that.
But, tackling all of these interdependent problems at once is going to be a lot harder. Economic recovery isn’t easy, and the lingering effects of the related propaganda will hang around for longer. After all, there are people who still think EVs can only go 50 miles, so bad information has a nasty habit of sticking around. Trying to tackle the disinformation first will bring accusations of trying to bury the truth, regardless of whether we admit that there are real problems.
And click chasers? That problem isn’t going to go away. It’s been around since the beginning of the internet.
The only remaining option might just be to let the disease run its course. If we can’t stop the feedback cycle of bad news that begets more bad news, then we may just have to wait for it to bottom out. This, of course, could set the EV industry back by years or more, but Will Rogers may have been 100% right when he said, “There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.”
When all else fails, education from the School of Hard Knocks works.
Some people might not ever really learn the lesson (no brain, no pain), but the hard knocks would put most of that crowd out of the ring anyway. When the clicks stop coming, click chasers move on to seeking other kinds of clicks. When the bot armies stop seeing results, their employers will move on to some other way to attack the liberal world. When the Tesla stans lose enough in the stock market, they’ll go find something else to be obsessed with (and probably walk away with a lot of conspiracy theories plaguing their thinking).
But, people who have even a lick of common sense will be able to contribute to getting things back on track after such a failure and correction that shook the idiots and ne’er-do-wells out. Without all of these “friends” hanging around, there’s a good chance that the EV market could get on track and stronger than before.
Getting to that point could prove painful, but it may be a necessary evil.
Featured image generated by Jasper.ai.
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