There are few more iconic American symbols than the pickup truck. An online auto guide reported that 34 of 50 U.S. listed pickups as their most popular vehicle in both new and used sales last year. All but two of the remainder states favored either SUVs or crossovers.
Nevada was much like the rest of the nation: the state’s most popular vehicle in 2022 was the Dodge Ram 1500, according to Edmunds.com.
America’s love affair with pickups is nothing new. The Ford F-150 was America’s best-selling new vehicle for more than 40 years. The widespread preference for pickup trucks among Americans, particularly Nevadans, underscores the importance of consumer choice in the automotive market.
Last month, Nevada Policy recognized this essential consumer right by joining the Save Our Cars Coalition, a collection of national and state-based organizations committed to safeguarding the freedom of consumers to choose the vehicle that best suits their needs.
Coalition members stand by the principle that government should refrain from favoring specific vehicles or industries within the marketplace. They believe automobile manufacturers should be free to produce those vehicles that consumers want to buy, not just the ones that governments compel them to make.
In an era where these fundamental principles are under attack from both Washington, D.C., and Carson City, the coalition’s mission becomes even more critical to preserving the iconic status of vehicles like the pickup truck in American culture.
During the 82nd legislative session earlier this year, there was a radical proposal that would have ceded Nevada’s regulatory authority on car emissions to California.
Senate Bill 49 (SB49) was a holdover from the Sisolak Administration’s Division of Environmental Protection which sought to authorize the State Environmental Commission to literally copy and paste California’s car emission standards for any new motor vehicle engine.
Thankfully, the Lombardo Administration withdrew SB49 and other bills like it. Nevada should never cede its legal authority or sovereignty to govern and regulate to California or any other state.
This was a small win in a broader struggle between consumer choice and sweeping environmental mandates that limit market activity.
Markets, not government mandates, should dictate vehicle offerings, ensuring a diverse range of options that cater to varying consumer preferences. While the environmental evangelists argue that allowing consumers freedom of choice will hinder environmental progress and slow the transition to more eco-friendly vehicles, such as electric cars, reality is often at odds with those assumptions.
A prime example was the debate over a fluorescent lamp ban earlier in the year. On Feb. 23, several Nevada Legislative Democrats presented Assembly Bill 144, which would have banned the sale of fluorescent lamps in our state, citing the cost savings to Nevadans and their eco-friendlier nature.
Of course, the built-in assumption was that without a ban, people would continue making the “wrong choice.” This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Ironically, during the hearing, Nevada Policy presented data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration showing that nearly half of U.S. households already use LED bulbs.
This contradicted part of the sponsors’ reasoning for a strict ban, as LED usage is already growing, and it undermined the inflated projected cost savings because it failed to consider existing adoption.
This reinforces existing economic analysis of consumer behaviors that reveals the public is smart enough to make its own choices and that regulators’ presumption of consumer irrationality is wrong.
The same is true when it comes to the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is proposing. The proposed CAFE and heavy-duty fuel efficiency standards aim to reduce emissions. However, they represent a top-down approach that would restrict the automotive market.
These standards will likely lead to increased vehicle costs, disproportionately affecting lower-income consumers. If allowed to go into effect, it could have adverse effects for a state like Nevada, where diverse geographical needs necessitate a variety of vehicle types.
These mandates will inevitably limit consumer choice and stifle market responsiveness.
The same is true about the Biden Administration’s push to mandate battery electric vehicle production and distribution.
Late last month almost 4,000 dealerships across the country signed an open letter expressing these concerns. They reinforced it through their legitimacy on the subject since “no government agency, no think tank, and no polling firm knows more about the automobile customer than us (car dealerships). We talk to customers every day.”
The letter goes on to explain why consumers are not purchasing battery electric vehicles and reveals how irrational it would be for many to follow through with the wishes of the environmentalist evangelicals.
“Many do not have garages for home charging or easy access to public charging stations. Customers are also concerned about the loss of driving range in cold or hot weather. Some have long daily commutes and don’t have the extra time to charge the battery. Truck buyers are especially put off by the dramatic loss of range when towing. Today’s current technology is not adequate to support the needs of the majority of our consumers.”
The letter continues: “Many of these challenges can and will be addressed by our manufacturers, but many of these challenges are outside of their control. 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.”
Taking this into account, we need legislators who recognize that the solution lies not in restrictive policies but in incentivizing innovation and allowing the market to naturally evolve towards sustainable options as consumer awareness increases, preferences shift and technology becomes feasible.