Yahoo! published an article this week titled “Americans aren’t lining up to buy EVs — despite the new $7,500 Inflation Reduction Act tax credit. Here are the 2 big reasons why.” It’s an odd claim in the first place, and the arguments are wrong.
That’s not to say the article doesn’t make some good, useful points. It says that we need better EV charging infrastructure and lower cost electric cars. Yes, of course we do, but that’s not why US EV market share is at about 7% while Europe is at 12% and China is at 20%. Frankly, it’s surprising that USA’s EV market share is as close as it is to the others’. (Note: for the purposes of this article, I am only referring to full battery electrics, not plugin hybrids, when referring to electric vehicles.)
Europe and China are far ahead of the US for one simple reason: they require it. Europe has policies in place that will hit automakers with crippling fines if they don’t sell enough electric vehicles. China has its own stringent policies. Of course, both also have plenty of positive financial incentives, but that’s not what has them sitting at 12% and 20% instead of 7%. We know this in part because until the European requirements kicked in, automakers didn’t try hard and EV market share was down around where it is in the US or even lower. As soon as the regulations kicked in, EV market share jumped.
But it’s not just like automakers forced their EVs on people in Europe. What they did was they made them available, and yeah, actually tried to sell them. Getting an electric car in Europe is much easier than in the US. There are dozens of more models, and they’re available more or less everywhere. Furthermore, the waitlists are not as bad. The thing is: when automakers have to sell EVs in Europe and China, and there’s a limited supply of batteries and limited EV production capacity, the US is not first priority, or second priority. So, the US does not get the same attention, the same EV supply, or the same sales totals.
One of the funniest things about the Yahoo article to me was right in the beginning. It stated, “Just two in every 10 Americans say they are ‘very likely’ to buy an EV as their next car, according to a recent survey by the University of Chicago’s Energy Policy Institute and the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.” First of all, “very likely” is a strong claim. This is not like “I might buy an EV one day.” Secondly, that’s 20%. As noted above, the US is at 7% EV market share, indicating a huge jump is coming. Also, Europe is at 12%. Last I checked, 20% is higher than 12%. So … are Americans “not lining up to buy EVs” or are they indeed waiting a year or so for electric cars they ordered and/or super eager to pocket their first EV? It seems to me the answer is clear.
I’m all for pushing for better EV charging infrastructure and lower-cost EVs, but let’s not misrepresent the story or the market. Americans actually do want EVs, and would buy them, and the best thing we could do to increase EV adoption is the same thing China and Europe did: require that automakers sell them.
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