Amid news of slowdown, electric car sales set to keep growing

Executive Editor
Source: Clean Investment in 2023: Assessing Progress in Electricity and Transport, Rhodium Group/MIT-CEEPR Clean Investment Monitor, Energy Innovation, REPEAT Project

You wouldn’t know it by reading the latest news headlines, but electric-car sales grew at a rapid clip last year in the United States and are set to keep growing in the years ahead, according to new research out today by a consortium of academic, research and consulting organizations. 

The projections come amid a slew of news stories in recent months documenting the slowdown in electric-vehicle sales, such as this article by The Wall Street Journal last week with the headline: “The Six Months That Short-Circuited the Electric-Vehicle Revolution.”

Electric cars — the most recognizable technology of the energy transition — offer a window into the ups and downs all types of climate technologies will face in the years and decades to come. Buckle up, because we’ll be seeing a lot of these types of cycles as new tech commercializes.

The research (authors listed below) found sales in 2023 came in near the top end of the range of projected sales for the year, fueled by the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act. The law gives consumers tax credits to buy a range of clean energy technologies, including electric cars. 

Sales of zero-emission vehicles — defined as fully electric, plug-in hybrid and fuel cell — are likely to fall this year from the more than 50% growth experienced in 2023, the report says. But the authors find such large growth rates were “neither expected to occur as a result of the IRA, nor is it required to achieve” the law’s goal of reducing net greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. by 40% by 2030.

Put simply, while sales are not expected to keep growing as dramatically, both the report’s high and low projections for the coming years show positive growth, as opposed to negative growth. (And indeed, the Biden administration may be easing regulations that would have required a faster growth, The New York Times reported last week.)

The report is by Princeton University’s REPEAT Project, the Clean Investment Monitor (a database by research firm Rhodium Group and Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research) and policy firm Energy Innovation.

Check out Cipher’s Cleantech Tracker, which also draws from the Clean Investment Monitor.