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Here's What America's Adoption Of EVs And Hybrids Really Looks Like

Illustration for article titled Heres What Americas Adoption Of EVs And Hybrids Really Looks Like
Photo: Toyota

It seems like every other automotive press release is about autonomy or alternative energy. Is every other car an EV or a plug-in hybrid? No, obviously, but this study shows an interesting breakdown of how popular alt-fuel cars really are, and where.

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Listicle factory iSeeCars claims to have “analyzed over 22.5 million new and used cars sold in 2017 (and over 17.8 million cars sold in 2014) to determine which states have the highest percentage of alternative-fuel vehicles.” Such vehicles are defined as fully electric vehicles, hybrids, and plug-in hybrids.

Apparently on a “national average,” 2.6 percent of all new cars sold around the U.S. were alt-fuel in 2017 versus 1.7 percent in 2014. The study looked at two different years three years apart to see the change in adoption rate over time. By which I mean, they wanted to show which U.S. states showed an increasing adoption of alt-fuels and at what rate.

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Illustration for article titled Heres What Americas Adoption Of EVs And Hybrids Really Looks Like
Graphic: iSeeCars

It will probably surprise no one that the West Coast seems to have the highest percentage of EV and hybrid sales. At least from what I can tell in Los Angeles, Teslas are like Camrys. As for actual Camrys, well, most of them appear to be hybrids, too.

As for where alt-fuel made the biggest gains between 2014 and last year:

Illustration for article titled Heres What Americas Adoption Of EVs And Hybrids Really Looks Like
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Hybrids and EVs seem to be gaining in popularity most rapidly in Alaska, at least over the span of the last three years.

I’m excited about electric, hybrid and other non-gasoline cars but I think these numbers will be brought up again next time we hear about “total bans on gasoline vehicle registrations” and such.

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Californians registered 2,047,000 new vehicles in 2017 according to the San Diego Tribune. If iSeeCars’ data is accurate, that means we can say 153,525 of them were alternative-fuel vehicles. I’m not against a bigger adoption of cars that don’t burn gasoline, but it looks like we’re still a few years away from them totally replacing the internal combustion engine.

Jalopnik Staffer from 2013 to 2020, now Editor-In-Chief at Car Bibles

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DISCUSSION

shanemorris
Shane Morris

My neighbor across the street bought a Camry Hybrid this month, and I promptly made her regret her purchase decision.

The Camry Hybrid is rated at 51/53, while the regular 4-banger is rated at 28/39.

The problem here is that gas only currently costs $2.19 (my last stop at Costco).

It’s hard to find a 2018 Camry Hybrid for under $34,000. You can, but they’re rare. I checked Autotrader, and the problem is... if you go cheap, you lose options you probably want in a modern car.

Anyway... in my locale (Nashville), the cheapest 4-cylinder was $23,534, and the cheapest Hybrid was $27,319. But, if we’re being honest, that wasn’t apples to apples. To keep it real, match alloy rims, etc - the Hybrid would need to step up to $29,906.

That $6,372 price gap would need to cover mostly highway driving for someone like my neighbor, since she has a long commute. The 14 MPG difference in highway miles would mean the equation looks like this, assuming $2.19 gas prices go up a bit, just to be fair, for the summer... say... $2.55.

That means you’re paying $0.048 per mile in the hybrid, versus $0.065 per mile in the 4-cylinder. That gap is $0.017 per mile.

1.7 cents per mile. That’s the price gap.

Her break even point on the premium she paid for the Hybrid Camry is 374,823 miles. That’s how many miles she has to drive in order for her to see any price benefit.

But that’s the high side. Let’s assume she goes with that stripper model Hybrid, with hubcaps, and features she’d hate. She’s still have to drive 222,647 miles in order to break even.

The reason more people don’t buy hybrids is because they carry a massive price premium that isn’t balanced out by the cost of fuel. Gas would have to be approaching $4.70 per gallon before most consumers saw a payoff (60 months or so) that would make sense to them.