The year Europe got its industrial strategy into gear

(Transport and Environment, 19 Dec 2023) Lawmakers are right to ensure electric cars are made in the EU – and not only by European companies.

2023 saw a turbulent start for the electric vehicle industry across Europe. The continent’s flagship 2035 cars law, which sets the entire automotive transformation into gear, was being held hostage by the German Liberals and their oil friends’ demands for credits for synthetic fuels.

Elsewhere the US Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and its generous subsidies were causing an exodus from Europe’s nascent battery industry, with local champions such as Northvolt prioritising the US market. To add fuel to the fire, the sales of Chinese-made electric cars were on a steady ascent, which risked putting European carmakers out of business.

Our work as T&E was clear. In early spring we exposed that two-thirds of Europe’s battery gigafactory plans were at risk of being delayed, scaled down or cancelled altogether. But we also showed that the potential to onshore critical parts of the value chain including cells, cathodes and lithium itself exists, and we published a blueprint of the measures needed. 

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Transport and Environment, 19 Dec 2023: The year Europe got its industrial strategy into gear