Electric cars: continuous growth on the European market

Electric cars: continuous growth on the European market

Electric cars

The month of March 2022 was particularly bad for the European car market, which recorded a -19% compared to March 2021, with a total of 1.14 million cars sold throughout the old continent. However, there is a car segment that is experiencing considerable growth, that of electric cars.

The situation of the electric car market is particular, and is particularly benefiting from the boom in electrification that has taken place in the recent years: today, with the price of gasoline constantly increasing and a strong climate of uncertainty regarding the supply of fossil fuels, the idea of ​​having a car able to move around the city using only batteries is very popular on the market. All these elements led to growth of more than 10% compared to March 2021, an increase which is the second highest monthly result ever. In total, to date, electric cars represent 22% of the overall automotive market.

Needless to say, at the top of these rankings there is always Tesla, capable of delivering the largest quantity of electric cars thanks to Chinese production. In March, 23,198 Model 3 units were registered, closely followed by Model Y of which 19,500 were registered - this balance is set to overturn when the Berlin Gigafactory finally produces Model Y in full swing. On the third step of the podium we have the electric Fiat 500, with 6,554 units registered in March 2022, followed by the Kia Niro EV and the Volkswagen ID.4.

Electric Vehicle Manufacturers: Don’t Be Like Tesla

Inside a Tesla factory

Photo by Martin Geiger on Unsplash

The big news item this week is that Elon Musk will officially be buying Twitter TWTR after threatening to do so for weeks. As with all of Musk’s moves, the $44 billion deal is snatching headlines as Twitter employees and users are left wondering what this means.

But what should be a trending topic is how his company, Tesla TSLA , has treated workers at its California assembly plant. As local and federal governments award millions in incentives to fuel the electric car industry, and transit agencies sign big contracts with companies to electrify their bus fleets, the company is an example of how these companies can get it wrong—especially when there’s a path forward that’s a win-win for companies and workers.

Investigations uncovered rampant health and safety issues at Tesla’s Fremont, California plant, many of which the company covered up in order to avoid recording the incidents. Workers at the Fremont plant have also spoken up about enduring racial slurs on the job. This may seem surprising for a company that seeks to change the world with cutting-edge technology, but this kind of dangerous and hostile working environment is unfortunately common in the modern manufacturing industry.

And the worst part of it all? These factories, including Tesla, often get millions—even billions—in tax incentives. The LA Times reported in 2015 how Tesla and Musk’s other companies have benefited from an estimated $4.9 billion in government incentives. More recently, Tesla got millions to set up shop near Austin. As Good Jobs First reports in its recent “report card,” many states give out these tax incentives with very little transparency and accountability about where these tax dollars are going. A report from Jobs to Move America, the organization I work for, shows how Alabama in particular gave away $4 billion in tax giveaways to major companies to incentivize job creation, yet the state still has some of the highest poverty rates, lowest levels of educational attainment, and highest incarceration rates in the country.

But sometimes, our tax dollars have gone to benefit companies who in turn make our communities better with good-quality jobs, training and apprenticeship programs and safe workplaces. For example, BYD—a Tesla competitor that won a contract to produce electric buses for LA Metro—has a facility in California that is unionized, committed to hiring 40% of its workers from groups facing significant barriers to employment, and implemented the country's first electric bus apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship program after signing a Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) with my organization, Jobs to Move America, and the union SMAR AR T Local 105.

A CBA, which is legally binding, is one way to ensure that companies follow through on their commitments to create high-quality jobs. These CBAs should commit to creating safe workplaces, providing high-quality training to workers and giving them equal opportunities for advancement, targeting groups traditionally left out of manufacturing jobs for hiring, and allowing workers to unionize in order to win better working conditions. CBAs also stand to benefit companies: another CBA signed between my organization, Proterra, and the United Steelworkers Local 675 paved the way for the company and union to win a $650,000 grant from California’s High Road Training Partnership (HRTP) in 2021 to develop apprenticeships for existing workers and new hires.

Companies like Tesla that represent the future shouldn’t be stuck in the past with hostile, dangerous working conditions at their manufacturing plants. Instead, taxpayers should be rewarding companies that use our tax dollars to create good jobs and training programs that create a pipeline of skilled workers, which in turn improves the lives of these workers and their communities. Electric vehicle manufacturers have the opportunity to generate press for the right reasons by setting an example for what modern U.S. manufacturing can look like.