Report: Electric vehicle subsidies going to the wrong drivers
EV sales growth is highly uneven, and an analysis argues this badly limits the climate benefits of federal purchase subsidies.
The big picture: EVs were over 12% of new light-duty vehicles registered in California last year, and Oregon, Washington, Hawaii and D.C. were all over 7%, per the Energy Department.
- Uptake is way slower in many other states, including huge interior areas where people drive long distances.
Why it matters: Check out this new analysis by the nonprofit Niskanen Center (h/t Matt Yglesias).
- It notes EVs aren't yet catching on among drivers who use the most gasoline.
- They're often in rural, suburban, or exurban areas and drive pickups and SUVs.
Zoom in: It draws on work by the clean transport group Coltura, which looked at "super users" — the top 10% of drivers who account for a third of gas use.
- Niskanen sets this against the target of ramping up EVs to 50% of sales by 2030, which is shared by the White House and several automakers.
- It models two scenarios: uptake continuing among "super progressives" — wealthier, more urban buyers who tend to drive efficient cars anyway — and "super users."
What they found: If all those new EVs went to "super users," it would displace 170 billion gallons of gas by 2030. That's 10 times the same uptake among "super progressives."
What's next: It suggests changing purchase incentives by linking them to miles driven to provide more climate bang for the buck.
- "Reforming EV subsidies to target Super-Users would make them more equitable, helping less well-off Americans, and particularly those hit hardest by big payments at the pump."
Go deeper: Read the analysis