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Governments meddling in the marketplace almost always fails, and it is failing again in the federal push to shove Americans into electric and hybrid vehicles.

As The Detroit News reported Monday, sales of all-electric and hybrid cars, never all that strong to begin with, are collapsing in the face of stable fuel prices and consumer preference for larger, more powerful vehicles.

Even a $7,500 per vehicle incentive from the federal government can’t move electric models off the lot. Electrics and hybrids make up just 2.7 percent of auto sales.

And yet federal and state governments have poured billions of dollars into advanced power-train research and subsidies for companies building batteries and other components.

They squandered taxpayer money without even a slight nod to market realities. Consumers never clamored for alternative-fuel vehicles. But the politicians believed they could force a demand where none existed.

Meanwhile, automakers are achieving great strides in improving the performance of the vehicles consumers do want — comfortable and versatile cars and trucks powered by far more efficient internal combustion engines.

The electric vehicle short-circuit is another example of the truth that when government tries to pick winners and losers in the marketplace, taxpayers always lose.

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