EVs Are Not the Answer: A Mobility Justice Critique of Electric Vehicle Transitions

Henderson, J
Department Author(s)
Journal Title or Book Publisher
Annals of the American Association of Geographers
Publication type

Henderson, J. (2020). EVs Are Not the Answer: A Mobility Justice Critique of Electric Vehicle Transitions, Annals of the American Association of Geographers, 110(6), 1993-2010. https://doi.org/10.1080/24694452.2020.1744422


Within climate–energy–transport scholarship and professions there is a growing consensus that electric vehicles (EVs), which include personal cars, sport utility vehicles (SUVs), vans, and pickup trucks, are essential for decarbonizing mobility. This article urges caution and pause before an EV lock-in and calls on geographers and other scholars, professionals, and sustainability advocates to consider the multiscale environmental and social problems associated with EVs. The article begins by reviewing the mainstream assumptions about mass EV uptake, with particular emphasis on projections forecasting more, not fewer, cars in the future. Using a mobility justice framework, I ask who is making these assumptions and why and discuss the influence of liberal economic theory on future projections of EVs. I next consider assumptions about the environmental efficacy and decarbonization potential of mass EV uptake and review how EV production and consumption might escalate rather than reduce global resource and energy demand. I also scale down to cities and describe how EVs will lay claim to many of the same spaces designated for green mobility, such as cycle tracks, bus lanes, and compact, walkable spaces. The conclusion proposes research questions to consider with regard to EVs, future transportation, future geographies, and future carbon emissions.