Transition studies’ understanding of differences in public policy is limited due to its ten-dency to focus on single-country cases. This paper assesses differences in plug-in electricvehicle (PEV) policies, comprising RD&D subsidies, infrastructure investments and salesincentives, across 13 countries over the period 2008–2014. I explore three conditionsthat may influence these policy expenditures. Content and statistical analyses show thatnational PEV policies differed drastically across countries in intensity and orientation, rang-ing from a focus on supply-side innovation policy to a focus on demand-side environmentalpolicy. The government’s role across national political economies only explain differencesin PEV infrastructure investments, while the government’s PEV diffusion targets for 2020surprisingly do not correlate with any PEV policy. Economic interest in the car industryshows and explains why car countries focus their policy on technology development, andnon-car countries on technology diffusion. These findings enhance the understanding ofnational policies in transitions.