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Where We Are on the Road to Electric Vehicles

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Are we there yet? No, but we’re definitely on the road. After decades of doubt, the world’s automakers have made up their minds about electric vehicles. The car world was rocked in January by General Motors Co.’s pledge to stop selling gas-burning cars by 2035, and industrywide EV investment plans now top $230 billion, according to AlixPartners, a consultancy. With governments wielding carrots for consumers and sticks for producers, EVs jumped to 11% of new car sales in Europe in 2020 and reached nearly 15% in the first quarter of 2021; in the same period, EV sales in China went from 4.8% to 8%. But there are big obstacles to the breakneck transition scientists say is needed to limit climate change, including plain old inertia. When it comes to cars, said Gina McCarthy, President Joe Biden’s top climate adviser, lots of people “just want ’em to be what they used to be.”

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