Oct 15, 2019

The risky business of electric vehicles

Ben Geman, author of Generate
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Reproduced from IEA; Note: Government incentives includes direct spending and tax expenditures; Chart: Axios Visuals

A new International Energy Agency analysis finds that governments account for nearly one-fifth of global spending on electric vehicle purchases.

Why it matters: "The ability of governments to stabilize and then reduce their share of total EV spending will be a key test of the sustainability of the EV market in coming years," 2 analysts write in the Oct. 10 commentary.

  • "Unless government incentives adjust as the market increases, considerable pressure will be placed on public budgets," they add.

The big picture: Governments accounted for roughly 18% of total EV spending last year — a tally that includes both direct support and tax incentives.

  • That's roughly the same level as 2017, but the share generally rose between 2012 and 2017 and "could very well rise again in [the] future."

Threat level: They note the EV market is growing at "whirlwind speed" even though they remain a tiny share of overall sales.

  • "But because it relies on government payments that cannot rise indefinitely, this growth raises risks and uncertainty even as battery costs come down," it states.

The intrigue: Government support is falling in 2 key markets, and the early signs show that it's affecting sales.

  • In China, the world's largest EV market, a cut in subsidies this year has eaten into sales.
  • In the U.S., sales growth has also slowed as consumer tax credits are phased down.

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Why it matters: The tense situation in the U.S. has brought the discussion of racism and discrimination onto the global stage at a time when most of the world is consumed by the novel coronavirus.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7:30 p.m. ET: 6,852,810 — Total deaths: 398,211 — Total recoveries — 3,071,142Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 7:30 p.m. ET: 1,917,080 — Total deaths: 109,702 — Total recoveries: 500,849 — Total tested: 19,778,873Map.
  3. Public health: Why the pandemic is hitting minorities harder — Coronavirus curve rises in FloridaHow racism threatens the response to the pandemic Some people are drinking and inhaling cleaning products in attempt to fight the virus.
  4. Tech: The pandemic is accelerating next-generation disease diagnostics — Robotics looks to copy software-as-a-service model.
  5. Business: Budgets busted by coronavirus make it harder for cities to address inequality Sports, film production in California to resume June 12 after 3-month hiatus.
  6. Education: Students and teachers flunked remote learning.