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EV, battery plants flock to the South without consumer incentives

South Carolina, which has received $10 billion in EV investment from Volkswagen, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and others, and Kentucky, which has received $10 billion in EV investments from Ford, SK On and AESC, fell below the level required to be included in the ranking. South Carolina earned 14 of the 100 points available. Kentucky earned 5.5. California, at the top of the list, earned 88.

“I definitely think that the southern states, or the states that are receiving a lot of this new investment, are missing out,” Huether said. “It would be great if the drivers in those states could actually drive the vehicles that are being manufactured there.”

But it’s not just southern states failing to provide support for the vehicles they are building.
Michigan, one of the top EV investment recipients outside of the southern battery belt, has received $19 billion in EV investment from GM, Ford and several battery companies and ranked 26th on the list. The state aims to operate a zero-emission light-duty vehicle fleet by 2035 and a zero-emission medium- and heavy-duty vehicle fleet by 2045. But the state offers no incentives for EV purchases. The Michigan council recommends adopting the Advanced Clean Cars II and Advanced Clean Trucks programs to accelerate the transition to EVs.

The top 10 scorers were California, New York, Colorado, Massachusetts, Vermont, Washington, New Jersey, District of Columbia, Oregon and Maryland. Six of them have adopted Advanced Clean Cars II, California’s light-duty zero-emissions vehicle sales mandate that requires 100 percent sales of zero-emissions vehicles by 2035, and Advanced Clean Trucks, a California policy that requires certain portions of heavy-duty vehicles sales to be zero emission by 2035, depending on vehicle class.

But even those states aren’t ready for an influx of EVs, said economist Patrick Anderson.

“I can’t identify a single state that is now ready for a mass adoption of EVs, not even California,” said Anderson, CEO of Anderson Economic Group. “Most states have a woefully inadequate charging infrastructure for electric vehicles. Some areas in some states have a barely adequate charging infrastructure for some electric vehicles.”

“We need to do much, much more to make it possible for people to rely on electric vehicles,” Anderson said. “The states that have affluent metropolitan areas … generally have much better charging availability than the vast portion of the United States.”

Factory towns typically have little in common with affluent metros. But regardless of state policy around EVs, automakers and federal targets will eventually expand EV sales volume everywhere, Huether said.

“EVs are going to be on the road in these states… obviously at a slower rate the less they do. But they will eventually come,” Huether said. “They should be at least planning for it and initiating those processes.”

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