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The growth in electric vehicle adoption, especially in emerging markets, could threaten long-term oil demand growth, Carbon Tracker has reported, citing these markets’ dependency on imports that could be relieved by a switch to electric vehicles.
“Emerging market oil importers spend 2% of GDP on oil imports, have a high and rising dependency on imported oil, and suffer premature deaths of 285,000 people a year from pollution linked to transport,” the authors of the report wrote.
They also argued emerging economies were having to import increasingly expensive oil, deepening their dependency on the foreign commodity. Right now, this argument is rather weak, with oil prices in the $40s and China, the world’s biggest oil importer, shaping up as the one single country that is capable of driving demand for crude. At the same time, China is the biggest EV market in the world and likely to continue growing as such thanks to ambitious emissions goals set by Beijing.
Meanwhile, Carbon Tracker said, battery prices are falling, and EVs are becoming increasingly competitive with internal combustion engine cars. This argument is also questionable: if EVs were competitive with ICE cars, we would have seen a much faster switch from ICE cars to EVs in the world’s biggest markets such as Europe and, again, China. Yet cheap EVs have their limitations: it is no accident that Tesla has been reporting especially strong sales in China.
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On the other hand, the switch to electric transport will reduce emissions from that segment of the economy significantly, and this, in turn, will reduce the number of pollution-related deaths. The question here is how to align these benefits with consumers’ preferences.
“The electrification of transport and falling battery prices enable electric vehicles to compete directly on the purchase price with ICE vehicles whilst reducing the cost of energy imports per vehicle by at least 90%, cutting the number of premature deaths from air pollution linked to transport by at least 75%, and lowering the cost to consumers by at least two thirds,” Carbon Tracker wrote.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.