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Photo: Sarah Grillo/Axios

2020 is shaping up as something of a wildcard for electric vehicle markets as automakers face an uncertain policy landscape.

What's next: The number of models available in the U.S. and worldwide is surging, per BloombergNEF.

  • In North America, 104 electric offerings will be on sale by the fourth quarter, up from 79 in Q4 of 2019. New models available in the U.S. will include the Tesla Model Y, the Ford Mustang Mach-E, the Rivian R1T and the VW I.D. Crozz.
  • In the EU, the number will jump to 165 by the end of next year, compared to 119 in Q4 2019, while China will see a bump too, per BloombergNEF's projection that includes full electrics and plug-in hybrids.

Yes, but: Global sales have been slowing in recent months and more headwinds loom. In the U.S., the biggest wildcard is the 2020 election.

  • Democratic hopefuls want to bolster EVs with tough vehicle emissions rules, ambitious sales targets, and spending on charging infrastructure.
  • President Trump's re-election would be less bullish for EVs. The administration is weakening Obama-era climate rules, and opposes legislation to expand consumer tax credits for EVs.
  • Tesla and GM have already hit the per-manufacturer cap.

The European market looks like a different story, thanks in part to new EU carbon emissions rules for vehicles that take effect this year.

  • BloombergNEF sees European sales growing 32% this year, while The Guardian reports that 2020 "will see the launch of flagship electric models with familiar names, such as the Mini, the Vauxhall Corsa and the Fiat 500."

China, the world's largest EV market, slashed subsidies midway through last year, which has badly crimped worldwide sales levels.

The big picture: Data compiled by InsideEVs show that 2019 sales ran ahead of 2018 for the first half of the year, but then started dropping a lot.

  • They see worldwide sales finishing 2019 at around 2.15 million, just barely ahead of 2018.
  • A Sanford C. Bernstein note last month showed October sales down 31% year-over-year, owing largely to China's policy change, and sales were also sharply lower on a rolling three-month basis.
  • U.S. sales have also slowed, per Bernstein and S&P Global Platts.

The bottom line: "While many are hopeful that EV sales could be poised to rebound in 2020, significant costs associated with buying an EV and limited infrastructure remain a barrier to entry for many," S&P Global Platts president Martin Fraenkel said in a recent note.

Go deeper: Electric vehicles are coming, but no one is sure how fast

Go deeper

"Atmospheric river" to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood

A map depicting 24-hour preciptation forecast (inches) ending Monday at 5a.m. local time. Photo: NOAA

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are set dump historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest from this weekend, forecasters warn.

Why it matters: A strong atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, is predicted to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood.

10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves to be removed after fires

A firefighter looks up at a giant sequoia tree after fire burned through the Sequoia National Forest near California Hot Springs, California, on Sept. 23. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

"Upwards of" 10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves have been "weakened by drought, disease, age, and/or fire" and must be removed in the wake of California's wildfires, the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks announced.

Why it matters: The damage to these trees, considered "national treasures," and work to remove them means a nearby key highway must remain closed to visitors as they have "the potential to strike people, cars, other structures, or create barriers to emergency response services," per a statement from the national parks.

Obama stumps for McAuliffe, urges Virginians not "to go back to the chaos"

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Former President Barack Obama framed a Nov. 2 gubernatorial race as a bellwether for the Democratic Party and the country, telling a crowd at a campaign event for Terry McAuliffe on Saturday that "I believe you, right here in Virginia, are going to show the rest of the country and the world that we're not going to indulge in our worst instincts."

Why it matters: With just over a week to go before Election Day in the Commonwealth, McAuliffe is bringing out the big guns. The 44th president appeared on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University to urge supporters to get to the polls.