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Future Paths of Electric Vehicle Adoption in the United States: Predictable Determinants, Obstacles, and Opportunities

This paper identifies and quantifies major determinants of future electric vehicle demand to inform widely held aspirations for market growth. Our model compares three channels that will affect electric vehicle market share in the United States from 2020 to 2035: intrinsic (no-subsidy) electric vehicle demand growth, net-of-subsidy electric vehicle cost declines (e.g., batteries), and government subsidies. Geographic variation in preferences for sedans and light trucks highlights the importance of viable electric vehicle alternatives to conventional light trucks; belief in climate change is highly correlated with electric vehicle adoption patterns; and the first $500 billion in cumulative nationwide electric vehicle subsidies is associated a 7%–10% increase in electric vehicle market share in 2035, an effect that diminishes as subsidies increase. The rate of intrinsic demand growth dwarfs the impact of demand-side subsidies and battery cost declines, highlighting the importance of nonmonetary factors (e.g., charging infrastructure, product quality, and/or cultural acceptance) on electric vehicle demand.