Transition studies’ understanding of differences in public policy is limited due to its tendency to focus on single-country cases. This paper assesses differences in plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) policies expenditures, comprising RD&D subsidies, infrastructure investments and sales incentives, across 13 countries over the period 2008-2014. I explore three conditions that may influence these policy expenditures. Content and statistical analyses show that national PEV policies differed drastically across countries in intensity and orientation, ranging from a focus on supply-side innovation policy to a focus on demand-side environmental policy. The government’s role across national political economies only explain differences in PEV infrastructure investments, while the government’s EV diffusion targets for 2020 surprisingly do not correlate with any PEV policy. Economic interest in the car industry shows and explains why car countries focus their policy on technology development, and non-car countries on technology diffusion. These findings enhance the understanding of national policies in transitions.