Will Ferrell’s 2021 Super Bowl ad for General Motors Co. makes bleak viewing today. The actor’s comic fury at being “out-EV’d” by Norway hit at a truth that was a point of pride for Europe: When it comes to electric-vehicle sales, the US has been a laggard, lacking the regulatory and investment push seen in China and Europe. “Don’t hate, imitate,” Volkswagen AG-owned rival Audi replied.

Imitate, the Americans have — and now it’s  politicians who are prone to Ferrell-style rants. The Biden administration’s tax credits of up to $7,500 on EVs assembled in North America are seen as an “aggressive” competitive threat by the EU and the likes of South Korea, as are other goodies promoting green investment in the $369 billion Inflation Reduction Act. Battery-makers like Sweden’s NorthVolt AB are pivoting to the US, with energy costs also in mind after a year that saw European natural-gas prices trade eight times higher than in the US.

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