Sep 27, 2023 - Energy & Environment

Trump-voting states are less likely to embrace electric vehicles

EV share of state vehicle fleet vs President Biden vote share in 2020
Note: Swings states are those with a margin of less than 1.5% in the popular vote; Data: BloombergNEF; Map: Jared Whalen/Axios

Politics influences whether electric vehicles are taking off in various states, according to a new report.

Why it matters: That finding, part of wider new analysis from the research firm BloombergNEF, arrives as EVs are bound up in 2024 politics.

Driving the news: BNEF finds links between median income and share of EVs in a state fleet, but "there is a greater relationship to date between the political leanings of a state and its EV adoption."

Yes, but: Many forces affect where EV adoption is relatively robust or low, they find.

  • Policy matters. California is the runaway leader, but multiple states with relatively high sales follow its vehicle emissions policies.
  • State purchase subsidies are in play too. So are sales laws — states that allow EV makers to bypass dealerships and sell directly to consumers tend to have somewhat higher uptake.

The intrigue: There are other influences as well. For instance, New York and Illinois lag "peer blue" states, even though both are run by pro-EV officials.

  • One possible reason, aside from banning direct-to-consumer sales, is they have densely populated cities where charging can be tough, the report theorizes.

What's next: The report finds opportunities for automakers, charging providers and policymakers.

  • Some states where adoption has yet to really take off — like Texas, Michigan, Georgia, and Illinois — have "strong fundamentals" around incentives or manufacturing bases.
  • Automakers that can break through in these burgeoning markets may gain a competitive edge, the BNEF report states.

What we're watching: Auto politics are center stage this week.

  • Biden joined the UAW picket line in Michigan on Tuesday — and didn't mention EVs in remarks to workers.
  • Trump speaks at an auto supplier in the state Wednesday night while GOP hopefuls are debating in California, where more criticism of Biden's EV policies is likely.

The bottom line: EVs are on the ballot in 2024.

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