How to encourage electric-car use

“We’re coming to Norway,” begins an advertisement for General Motors, an American carmaker. Supposedly enraged by the Nordic nation easily surpassing America in electric vehicles (evs) per person, Will Ferrell, a comedian, sets off over land and sea to deliver the challenge to Norwegians, only to be told, after several mishaps along the way, that he has in fact arrived in Sweden.

American ev policy is similarly lost. As part of President Joe Biden’s bid to decarbonise the economy, the Inflation Reduction Act (ira), a recently passed infrastructure bill, offers incentives for people to purchase evs. It comes just when other rich countries, including Britain and Germany, are about to reduce theirs, having reconsidered how best to encourage people to use green transport. The evidence suggests they are right to do so—and that Mr Biden is heading down the wrong road.

America’s first problem is protectionism. The ira offers subsidies to ev buyers, including rebates of up to…

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