The US is lagging further behind China and Europe in electric vehicle production

US President Joe Biden tests out the new Ford F-150 lightning truck while visiting VDAB at the Ford Dearborn Development Center in Dearborn, Michigan on May 18, 2021.

Leah Millis | Reuters

The United States lags behind China and Europe when it comes to the production and acceptance of electric vehicles domestically, according to a new study by the International Clean Transportation Council, and that gap widened from 2017 to 2020.

The world manufactured more than 10 million electric passenger vehicles between 2010 and 2020, according to the study. By the end of 2017, US-based automakers had produced 20% of global inventories. By 2020, US automakers accounted for just 18% of the cumulative number of electric vehicles produced since 2010, while the share of production increased in China and Europe.

ICCT said government policies promoting electric vehicles made a difference.

“Growth in EV manufacturing occurs where there are strong national policies designed to drive the market,” said Nic Lutsey, ICCT’s director of programs, in a statement. “There are hundreds of billions of dollars on the table and the United States hasn’t even bothered to pull up a chair.”

From 2010 to 2020, the researchers found, China was the largest producer of electric vehicles geographically, accounting for about 44% of electric vehicles manufactured, with roughly 4.6 million units in both production and sales during the decade.

Europe produced 25% of the world’s electric vehicles from 2010 to 2020, manufacturing 2.6 million and selling 3.2 million, making the region a net importer.

Tesla’s China-made Model 3 vehicles are seen during a delivery event at its factory in Shanghai, China, on January 7, 2020.

Aly Song | Reuters

Looking at last year alone, US-based automakers produced at least 450,000 electric vehicles, and Tesla accounted for about 85% of that production for the year. Annual exports of electric vehicles from plants in the U.S. in 2020 exceeded 215,000, the most of any country.

Stronger demand overseas than in the US Makes it a necessity for EV makers like Tesla to ship and set up a store, beyond the US Businesses tend to sell their EVs relatively near the plants where they are assembled.

Electric vehicles, including hybrids and pure battery electric vehicles, accounted for just 2.3% of new vehicle sales in the US in 2020. Meanwhile, 10% of new vehicle sales in Europe were electric and 6% were electric in China.

That demand abroad is creating a kind of network effect. Automakers have committed more money and are making more aggressive plans to establish new plants and sell a greater variety of EV models abroad than in the US, the ICCT study notes.

For example, Volkswagen is expected to have the highest total production of electric vehicles by 2025, based on plans and investments announced by the company to date, with no all-electric plants in the US but with several all-electric assembly plants in Europe and China.

And only General Motors and Tesla plan to have vehicle assembly plants dedicated to making electric vehicles in the US alone by 2025.

Policies “focused on a transition to zero-emission vehicles,” or the lack of them, have spurred these trends, the ICCT researchers concluded.

In Europe, the study notes, automakers have introduced dozens of new electric models and have greatly increased the volume of electric cars they are making or planning to make, compared to the United States in recent years. This move is largely to meet regional vehicle emissions standards.

In China, “supply and demand side policies” helped drive increased production and adoption of electric vehicles, the study found. China has extended a variety of consumer incentives and tightened regulations limiting internal combustion engine vehicles, while making it easier to purchase, register and operate electrical systems.

Meanwhile, in the US, some vehicle efficiency standards were repealed under former President Donald Trump. And federal incentives to buy electric vehicles began to be removed for automakers with the highest volume of electric vehicle sales, such as Tesla and GM.

A new bipartisan infrastructure plan in the US includes $ 15 billion for electric vehicle, electric bus and transit infrastructure, a fraction of President Joe Biden’s previous proposal to spend $ 174 billion to boost the vehicle market. electrical

Read the full study here.

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