Electric Vehicle Momentum Builds Nationwide

Experts

Policy Counsel, Energy and Environment
Senior Communications Associate, Energy Policy

By Jason Kuruvilla on Friday, March 31st, 2017

Clean cars are no longer just for the future. Many clean vehicles are already in showrooms, and you can expect the pace of new model rollouts to accelerate.

Last week, members of the California Air Resources Board met to finalize their their midterm review of fuel efficiency standards for vehicle model years 2022-2025. They also affirmed the state’s Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) program, which establishes targets for bringing new clean cars to the market.

But California isn’t alone. The Clean Air Act grants California the authority to set its own standards, and gives other states the option to follow those standards. These states, based primarily in the Northeast, are taking steps to make sure their residents can take full advantage of  ZEV offerings through infrastructure investments, tax credits for buying zero emission vehicles and setting up home charging stations.

These states, home to more than 91 million Americans, have seen EV sales jump nearly twice the national average. They have committed to helping introduce 3.3 million clean cars to their roads by 2025. In the last several months, state officials have announced programs to further accelerate the growth of electric vehicles, including:

  • Lawmakers in New York just established a new clean car rebate program and recently announced the first-of-its-kind EV Workplace Charging initiative to increase the adoption of EVs in the greater New York City area.
  • A new law just passed in Massachusetts is designed to bolster electric vehicle parking and charging options. The goal is to increase the number of EVs from 8,000 to 300,000 over the next eight years.
  • New Jersey is considering a bill to use VW settlement funds to pay for the installation of electric vehicle charging stations across the state.
  • Maryland’s General Assembly just passed the Clean Cars Act of 2017, to extend tax credits for plug-in electric vehicles, with overwhelming bi-partisan support.
  • There are now 350 EV charging stations across Connecticut. And Connecticut is just the latest state to consider legislation that would allow car companies like Tesla to sell vehicles directly to consumers in the state.

Support for EVs is happening at all levels and sectors. For example, cities like Indianapolis, Los Angeles and New York, have all announced steps to shift their municipal fleets to EVs to avoid fuel and maintenance costs. Even utility companies, like Oklahoma Gas and Electric, are also helping to make EVs more accessible. In addition to shifting its corporate fleet from conventional gas vehicles to electric cars, OG&E also recently launched the SmartHours program, that allows EV owners a discounted rate when charging their cars during off-peak hours. General Motors, maker of the plug-in hybrid Volt and all-electric Bolt, announced that its new car-sharing program, Maven, will now features over 100 Bolts, so users can take advantage of clean driving.

Consumers have been responding well, too. A recent Consumers Union survey found that nearly half of Californians and more than a third of drivers in the Northeast would consider buying an EV as their next vehicle.

The data bears that out: Last year was a strong year for EV sales, beating out 2015 by 37%. And sales for 2017 are already looking stronger. In January, EV sales were an incredible 70% higher than the previous January, while February sales are 68% higher than the previous February. As California invests in expanding electric charging infrastructure, more models and types of EVs will come to market and consumers learn more about the performance, tech features, and lower operating and maintenance costs of EVs, sales are likely to continue to rise.

The momentum toward a clean car future is strong and growing. Automakers continue to introduce new models with more features and greater range. As more Americans recognize the benefits of electric vehicles and become familiar with the technology, their growth will likely accelerate. If you are considering an EV, check out our guide to determine which EV might be right for you.

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