The Potential Impacts of Slow Electric Vehicle Adoption

Nations that are slow to adopt electric vehicles (EVs) may face a surplus of used gasoline cars in the future if they fail to accelerate the transition to electrification, warns a report by London-based think-tank Carbon Tracker. While China, North America, and Europe are gradually phasing out internal combustion engine vehicles, automakers might turn to selling older, more polluting models in regions like Africa, Asia, and South America. Ben Scott, a senior automotive analyst at Carbon Tracker, emphasizes the importance of countries with weak or no decarbonization targets for their automotive sector to take action. The report identifies India, Australia, Thailand, Turkey, Indonesia, Malaysia, Russia, and South Africa as countries lacking clear goals to decarbonize their car fleets.

Importing second-hand EVs from areas where battery recycling efforts are gaining momentum won’t be a feasible solution for many countries. Consequently, developing nations could face a heavier financial burden by importing transport fuels, as highlighted by the report. Africa, for instance, spends $80 billion annually on importing transportation fuels, amounting to 2.5% of its gross domestic product. However, the report suggests that Africa, Asia, and South America could collectively save over $100 billion in fuel imports and reduce trade deficits through policies that support EV adoption.

To expedite the transition to EVs, governments should consider implementing measures such as import bans and age restrictions on used cars, emission limits, and the elimination of tariffs on EVs. Additionally, increasing domestic production and recycling of EVs would play a pivotal role in reducing transport emissions. The report also emphasizes the potential economic opportunities that developing markets can unlock by embracing battery-powered vehicles. These opportunities range from mineral mining and manufacturing to sales, infrastructure development, and recycling.

The thinking behind accelerated EV adoption is not only limited to reducing greenhouse gas emissions but also focuses on the myriad economic and environmental benefits that await countries that embrace a sustainable vehicle future. The report serves as a wake-up call for nations lagging behind in the electric mobility transition, urging them to seize these opportunities before it’s too late.


What are the potential consequences of slow EV adoption?
Slow EV adoption can lead to a surplus of used gasoline cars, particularly in nations that have not prioritized the transition to electric vehicles. This can result in a financial burden for import-dependent countries and hinder their progress towards decarbonization.

Which countries have weak or no targets for decarbonizing their car fleets?
According to the Carbon Tracker report, countries such as India, Australia, Thailand, Turkey, Indonesia, Malaysia, Russia, and South Africa lack clear goals for decarbonization in their automotive sectors.

How can governments incentivize the shift to EVs?
Governments can encourage the adoption of EVs through various policies, including import bans and age restrictions on used cars, emission limits, and the removal of tariffs on electric vehicles. Increasing domestic production and recycling of EVs are also essential steps in reducing transport emissions.

What economic opportunities are associated with the switch to battery-powered vehicles?
Accelerating the transition to EVs can open up economic opportunities in areas such as mineral mining, manufacturing, sales, infrastructure development, and recycling, particularly in developing markets.