How will electric vehicle transition impact EU jobs?

The automotive sector is on the brink of a major disruption and car makers are about to see “... more change in the next five years than [we’ve seen] in the last 50 years.” One of these shifts is from internal combustion engines to electric mobility.

The change will upset the market, create uncertainty, and redistribute power within the industry and will require new strategic orientations as well as stable, forward-looking policies.

This briefing analyses the impact that the electric vehicle transition will have on EU jobs. The evidence suggests jobs will change in the automotive industry but there will be a net increase in employment across the economy of 500-850 thousand. Estimates of how many jobs will be lost in automotive are highly uncertain but it seems likely in the medium term to 2030 none or few.

The biggest short term risk is that sizable numbers of electric cars are produced in China and imported into the EU, which means that a quarter of jobs in manufacturing could effectively be offshored.

If the European OEMs are to avoid a “Kodak moment” they need to invest quickly and policy needs to establish a significant European market to encourage manufacturers to build EVs in Europe in response to a strong market here. An EU zero emission vehicle sales target as part of the forthcoming car CO2 regulation for post 2020 is the solution with a target of 15-20% sales by 2025. This would drive domestic investments in EV production, help maintain European manufacturers’ competitive advantage in the automotive sector, and ultimately lead to job creation in the EU.