According to a recent video hosted by automotive expert and media personality Lauren Fix, there’s a “war on cars” raging in this country that is threatening the chief of all American values — our very freedom. No, this isn’t the war on electric vehicles that the fossil fuel billionaire Koch brothers have been waging (and which we’ve been tracking on Koch vs. Clean). Rather, says Fix, “there’s been a concerted push by government bureaucrats and environmentalists to transform car ownership from a source of pride to a source of guilt.”
What Fix doesn't mention in this video is her ties to funding from the Koch brothers. In addition, the organization behind the video she hosted, Prager University (PragerU), is a not a university but rather a non-profit founded by conservative talk show host Dennis Prager, with a stated mission to spread “Americanism” through five minute internet videos. Videos, which include such titles as “Fossil Fuels: The Greenest Energy” and “Why You Should Love Fossil Fuel.”
Fix, who goes by “The Car Coach” and has a media reel longer than the 52 minutes per day the average American commuter spends behind the wheel, expands on this alleged “war on cars” in the PragerU video:
“The very reason people love cars — personal freedom — is also why regulators can't stand them. Government — at all levels — craves control. And when it comes to your car, they want you off the road. So do the environmentalists with whom they have made common cause.”
Fix's “The War On Cars” video has been viewed more than 2.1 million times on Facebook and Youtube according to PragerU.
Ironically, Fix spends more than one minute of the five total in “The War on Cars” video attacking electric cars. Apparently the “personal freedom” held so dear by the video’s host doesn’t extend to the freedom to choose a plug-in electric vehicle with no tailpipe emissions, negligible maintenance costs, and let's not forget, ”instant torque and blazing speeds.”
Why would a video that purports to celebrate the personal automobile pivot to bash the most exciting technological innovations that the automotive industry has put forth in decades?
Let's consider the messenger.
PragerU Video Host Is Sponsored by Koch Funds
Besides her media work, Fix runs Fix Motorsports, LLC with her husband, Paul Fix, who also races cars. Paul’s #44 car is sponsored by Fueling U.S. Forward, the pro-fossil fuel PR campaign that is funded by the Koch brothers and which Koch vs. Clean has been tracking for more than a year. We noted this race car sponsorship months ago, but the funding tie to media personality Lauren Fix was previously unreported.
Screen shot from Paul Fix Facebook video.
On Facebook, “The Car Coach” Lauren Fix refers to Fueling U.S. Forward as one of “our sponsors.”
Screen shot from Lauren Fix's Facebook page.
Fueling U.S. Forward’s sponsorship of the duo's racing is unique, as all of the campaign’s other funding efforts have been spent on events. (We reached out to Paul Fix and Lauren Fix for comment but received no responses. A spokesperson for PragerU would not comment on how the hosts were selected for particular videos nor who wrote the scripts, instead pointing us to the FAQ page.)
In “The War on Cars,” host Lauren Fix repeats many of the claims made in the recent Fueling U.S. Forward videos which deceptively criticize electric vehicles as being especially bad for the environment and as “toys for the rich.” Fix also cites a long-debunked study by consulting firm Arthur D. Little which the other Fueling U.S. Forward videos also relied on.
Debunking 'The War on Cars'
The PragerU video neglects to mention the federal bailout of GM and Chrysler, which pumped nearly $100 billion of taxpayer money into these private companies to keep them afloat through the Great Recession. This government bailout of the automotive industry straddled both the administrations of Presidents Bush and Obama.
Nor does the video mention the long history of the federal government’s wide and varied support for the personal automobile. As Stephen Miller wrote on Streetsblog:
“Fix says nothing about the ubiquitous government mandates that force developers to spend billions on parking, or the massive public subsidies that sustain auto sprawl, or the pervasive regulatory apparatus that’s supposed to protect us from the danger of cars, but still can’t prevent 40,000 traffic deaths in the U.S. each year.”
We don't need to spend too much time debunking “The War on Cars” here, because most of the deceptive or misleading points have already been covered in our earlier responses to Fueling U.S. Forward videos attacking electric cars. And also because the same fact-checker who debunked the earlier Fueling U.S. Forward videos has again taken to YouTube to correct the claims in this PragerU effort.
But for the record, here are the most egregious claims that Fix makes in the video and how they are misleading.
First, there is the claim that electric vehicles cost more to operate over the life of the vehicle than gas-powered cars. This refers to the aforementioned Arthur D. Little comparison of electric and gas-powered cars that has been repeatedly disproven and debunked, and the findings of which have never been replicated by any other studies examining the same question (namely, do electric cars offer an environmental advantage over gas vehicles). The Arthur D. Little study relies on some absurd assumptions about how people would use electric vehicles that don't reflect real world driving habits.
Here's a closer look at that study's most egregious assumptions:
Second, Fix claims that electric car batteries require rare earth minerals, which is simply untrue, and which we have examined in greater depth in multiple posts on the Fueling U.S. Forward video “The Dirty Secrets of Electric Cars.”
Finally, the PragerU video repeatedly plays to the concept of “range anxiety,” saying that electric vehicles inhibit “freedom” by traveling less than 100 miles per charge. This neglects the fact that many electric vehicles (even those being sold for less than $30,000 after incentives) already get more than 200 miles of range. It also totally ignores the existence of plug-in hybrids, which can switch to a gas-powered backup after exhausting the battery's charge. These plug-in hybrids currently represent some of the most popular plug-in electric cars on the market (including Chevy's landmark Volt), and allow drivers to travel the vast majority of their miles on electric power, but have the gasoline as backup for longer trips.
Here's more from the Youtube debunking on these battery and range anxiety issues:
Ultimately, the PragerU video is correct in that there is a war on cars underway — a war on electric cars. But that war is being waged and funded by the oil refining billionaires that sponsor the video’s host.
Main image: Screen shot from PragerU video “The War on Cars.”