Like a poker player that has nothing to lose, automakers have gone all in on EVs in such a short span of time it’s almost shocking. No looking at alternatives, no studies, no gradual transition. It’s happening whether we like it or not. But there’s one thing many people aren’t paying attention to that’s going to be affected by all this: jobs. Business Insider reports that experts predict hundreds of thousands of jobs in the auto industry are going to be lost with the EV transition.
While EVs are cars, they’re totally different animals for automakers. Different technologies and ways of manufacturing mean that the way things have been done for most of the 20th century won’t be needed anymore. Fewer moving parts and batteries mean more tech-focused workers and less manual labor. The sad part is, it’s going to be a win for automakers as they predict workforce cost reductions.
Business Insider says that companies like VW predict that EVs will require 30 percent fewer workers than traditional ICE vehicles. “The industry is going through a transition unlike anything we’ve ever seen. There’s a pretty strong chance that there will be fewer people building these cars, fewer people building the parts to these cars, and that will create challenges in some automotive communities” said Brett Smith, director of technology at the Center for Automotive Research.
Any way you look at it, the more EV sales rise, the more jobs are lost. A study done in the fall of 2021 by the Economic Policy Institute shows that if EV sales are 50 percent of all domestic vehicle sales by 2030, 75,000 auto jobs will be gone. And it’s not just blue-collar jobs that will be lost either. White collar jobs will be affected, as those who design and engineer ICE vehicles will either lose their jobs or have to be retrained. We’ve seen the beginnings of it already with Ford. CEO Jim Farley bluntly called out the jobs recently. “We absolutely have too many people in some places, no doubt about it. We have skills that don’t work anymore, and we have jobs that need to change” he said.
It’s not all bad news though. But it still all hinges on hope and assumptions. There’s potential for new industries to open up with the Economic Policy Institute saying some 150,000 new jobs could open up if domestic policy regarding domestic EV production pans out.