Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.


Infrastructure killed the electric car

When prices are adjusted for quality, electric vehicles stood their ground to petrol cars in the early twentieth century United States. If the electricity grid had developed twenty years earlier, they might have reached a 68–79% market share and CO2 emissions per car could have declined by 60%, a new study finds.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.


  1. 1.

    Taalbi, J. & Nielsen, H. Nat. Energy (2021).

  2. 2.

    Mom, G. The Electric Vehicle: Technology and Expectations in the Automobile Age (Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 2004).

  3. 3.

    Kirsch, D. A. The Electric Vehicle and the Burden of History (New Brunswick, 2000).

  4. 4.

    Tran, M., Banister, D., Bishop, J. D. K. & McCulloch, M. D. Nature Clim. Change 2, 328–333 (2012).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Johnson, B. Now is the time to plan our green recovery. Financial Times (2020).

  6. 6.

    David, P. A. Am. Econ. Rev. 75, 332–337 (1985).

    Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Liebowitz, S. J. & Margolis, S. E. J. Law Econ. Organ. 11, 205–226 (1995).

    Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    US Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Transportation and Air Quality. Greenhouse Gas Emissions from a Typical Passenger Vehicle (EPA, 2018);

  9. 9.

    Bakker, G., Crafts, N. & Woltjer, P. Econ. J. 129, 2267–2294 (2019).

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Gerben Bakker.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The author declares no competing interests.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Bakker, G. Infrastructure killed the electric car. Nat Energy 6, 947–948 (2021).

Download citation


Quick links