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ICCT paper assesses leading regional EV markets in US and policies behind them

A new white paper from the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) assesses which policy actions are behind the regional leading markets in the US for electric vehicles. The white paper identifies the areas with the highest shares of EVs and catalogues the actions that support EV uptake. The assessment includes promotion actions by state policy (e.g., regulation, purchasing incentives), local policy (e.g., parking and lane access incentives, building codes), utility actions (e.g., charging infrastructure incentives, preferential charging rates), and public charging availability.

The base regional unit for the study was the metropolitan statistical area (MSA). The authors defined regions as the Midwest, Mountain, Northeast, South, and West, based on the US Census (2016). Within the West region, they considered California separately because the state’s long-time focus on emissions regulations and electric vehicles makes it an outlier and benchmark for the rest of the country. In each region, the authors identified the four leading metropolitan areas with the highest electric vehicle share in each region. Only areas with populations of more than 50,000 were included in the study.

Electric vehicle share of new vehicle registrations in 2015, highlighting leading metropolitan areas in each region (new vehicle registration data from IHS Automotive). The leaders in each region are labeled on the map. Source: The ICCT. Click to enlarge.

The ICCT authors found that many of the leading market share MSAs have more than 10 electric vehicle promotion actions in place. Four of the areas—Portland, San Jose, San Francisco, and Santa Cruz—have 20 or more actions in place.

State consumer financial incentives play a prominent role. These typically range from $1,000 to $3,000 per battery electric vehicle in most states, and they are typically about half as much for plug-in hybrid vehicles due to their lesser all-electric driving capability. Colorado has the highest incentive: as much as $5,000 per vehicle.

The International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) 2
Regional electric vehicle share and regionally leading metropolitan areas. Click to enlarge.

There are substantial purchase incentives in California, Colorado, Connecticut, North Carolina, and Washington. The Georgia rebate was revoked in July 2015, and a Texas incentive was limited in its availability throughout the year.

State regulations also play a key role. California and nine other states have adopted a Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) regulatory program requiring an increasing percentage of new vehicles sales from now through 2025 to be electric-drive. Of the 26 metropolitan areas in this study, the four in California, four in the Northeast, and two in Oregon are in ZEV states.

Twelve of the 26 metropolitan areas have six or more city-level actions in place to promote electric vehicles: Ann Arbor, Indianapolis, Boulder, Fort Collins, Atlanta, Austin, Nashville, Seattle, Portland, San Jose, Santa Cruz, and San Francisco. Eleven of the metropolitan areas in this study have four or more major utility actions in place: Holland, Bridgeport, Atlanta, Athens, Austin, Honolulu, Kahului, San Jose, Santa Cruz, San Francisco, and Eureka.

The white paper provides a table detailing all the actions across the MSAs.

Based on their findings, the authors made a number of conclusions:

  • Regulatory policy, in particular the Zero-Emission Vehicle program, is a key driver for the early market.

  • Most of the region-leading electric vehicle markets benefited from state-level financial incentives.

  • Offering local parking perks for electric vehicles, progressively integrating electric vehicles into municipal fleets, and implementing electric-vehicle-ready building codes are increasingly common among the leading metropolitan areas for electric vehicle penetration. Many of the leading areas for electric vehicle uptake around the country also implemented electric vehicle readiness plans and multi-stakeholder groups (e.g., city governments, regional governments, local businesses, utilities, nonprofits) that were working together on outreach, coordination on charging infrastructure, and other local measures.

  • The regional electric vehicle share leaders tended to have greater public charging infrastructure than their regional average.

  • Many regional electric vehicle share leaders had proactive electric power utilities supporting electric vehicles with outreach activities, preferential charging rates, and deployment of public charging infrastructure.

These growing electric vehicle markets across the United States might signal an increased awareness in these communities regarding the emerging electric vehicle technology. Further support for the new market will require continued re-examination as electric vehicle adoption expands from early adopters to fast-following consumers, especially with the coming next generation of electric vehicles. The leading electric vehicle markets identified here are a collection of larger high-technology cities, as well as smaller university towns. The exact underlying characteristics of these types of communities, whether they have more proactive governments, more nonprofit activities, more progressive dealer actions, or other demographic characteristics, warrant further investigation. From this analysis it seems clear that the electric vehicle market is emerging, albeit concentrated within pockets. Widespread adoption of actions like those in place in the leading electric vehicle markets will continue to encourage broader expansion of the market.

—Kwan et al.




If USA' Fed incentives are greatly reduced in/for the next 4 years, will this study still apply for the American market?


If plug-ins are genuinely competitive (cost and "driveability"), the influence of these factors will quickly fade. So far (and in the foreseeable future), plug-ins need some "money on the hood" to move off the lot, whether it's Federal, State or Local, to generate significant interest.

In March I landed a 2013 Volt in bascially unused condition (6000mi, yes SIX thousand) for $19k. What a deal! I spend virtually nothing on gasoline.

But I also has in my sights two other cars: a Civic and an Elantra of the same year with under 10k miles on them. They were going for under $12k.

For the same utility and the same comfort (notwithstanding the smooth electric drive experience), I could have saved $7500 (and had cheaper insurance). That savings would have bought 2500 gallons of gas at $3/gal, or over 65kmi miles of driving. At a cost of capital of 5%, my payback is, practically speaking, non-existant.

Plug-ins will remain an affectation of the environmentally "concerned", the tech nerd, and those few who are just in love with the e-drive experience for now.


Please excuse my sloppy editing above.


I think we can dismiss the Federal Government from any green incentives in the future; the Republicans have little opposition from the weakened Democrats. They own the Presidency,the Congress, the Supreme Court and control the media and the Armed forces; Only the states stand between them and absolute control of our country.

Looks a lot like Germany in pre-WW2 when Hitler took over.


"Looks a lot like Germany in pre-WW2 when Hitler took over."

Looks like ill-informed, shrill histrionics of the politically obsessed are still in full swing.

Take your squealing partisan anguish somewhere else.


Republicans are responsible for the results.


This article and comments discuss the US EV future, which could be derailed by a pro-fossil fuel/'no climate change' administration.

Has anyone noticed the loss of the ABILITY to comment at some once popular websites like BusinessInsider since Election Day?


"Has anyone noticed the loss of the ABILITY to comment at some once popular websites like BusinessInsider since Election Day?"


BI has been on again/off again about comments for quite some time, and many authors apparently don't activate comments to their posts. Danielle Mouoio was posting about TSLA and SCTY before 8 Nov and none of hers allowed comments. For sites that use Discus for their comments, some older browser versions are unkind to the Discus product.

Seriously, are you really, really bereft of opportunities to share your wisdom with the world? Twitter will allow you the same instantaneous global visibility enjoyed by leading intellects like Katy Perry. You can post links to the BIs or other outlets along with whatever perspective you want to add, positive or negative, on your blog or FB or Twitter or whatever.

The viewership of these posts is miniscule anyway, with total views in the low thousands at best.

As for the US EV future: how many times have I read here from commenters like the ever-present Henrik that sub-$150/kWh batteries are basically already here? How often do the Teslacolytes pronounce the worlds automakers dead and Tesla ascendant to sell all cars to all people everywhere imminently? Or, barring that, that the nation's roads will be crawling with self-driving EVs at a miniiscule cost to happy occupants by 2019? Look: if one-third of the projections made here for cost and technology availability, there needn't be a single subsidy or tax provision or incentive action by any government to "help" EVs. The juggernaut is unstoppable and Clintontrumpsanderswhomever is a non-issue.

Of course, these prognosticators aren't right, but the reality remains that the occupant of the White House won't make much difference -- global markets and technology will drive the real solutions and America's significance in this outcome continues to diminish. If EV tech makes sense they'll be here in droves for you to buy, with a commoditized charging network full of businesses clamoring to sell you cheap kWHr.

In the meantime I will continue to skeptically observe and drive an EV that can get me to a far destination on gasoline.

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