Report: EV Impact on European Jobs Worse than Forecast

The European auto industry’s sudden shift to electrification will eliminate far more jobs than the European Commission has predicted, according to trade group ACEA.

Carmakers anticipate a dramatic switch to hybrids and all-electric vehicles as they rush to meet lower carbon dioxide emission limits expected in Europe after 2021.

ACEA’s analysis, which was completed in May but made public only now, considers sales penetration levels for low-emission vehicles at 13%, 25% and 30% by 2030. The report warns that employment shrinkage could reach 60% for European jobs related to vehicle powertrains, replacement parts and maintenance.

Drivetrain components account for 22%-24% of a conventional car’s cost, according to the analysis. That proportion drops to 8%-20% for an all-electric vehicle, whose components are mechanically simpler and electronically more complex.

Surprisingly, ACEA’s report says that adopting stricter emission targets would have a greater positive impact on employment than would more modest goals. That’s because tougher standards would accelerate demand for gasoline-electric hybrid powertrains compares with simpler all-electric systems. The report points out that the labor content for plug-in hybrids is greater than for piston-only or battery-only powertrains.

The study predicts that establishing local sources for EV batteries would have little offsetting effect on job losses. It notes that even those jobs would require significant retraining for displaced workers because of the sharply different technologies involved.

The 26-page analysis says countries in which carmaking account for the greatest share of manufacturing employment—and thus those most likely to be hurt by electrification—are Sweden and Germany.