Aug 1, 2022 - Energy & Environment

A handful of states are driving nearly all U.S. electric car adoption

Share of U.S. EVs, by state
Data: S&P Global Mobility. Map: Jared Whalen/Axios

California — no surprise — leads the U.S. in electric vehicle ownership, accounting for 39% of all EVs registered nationwide.

  • Look more closely at the numbers, however, and it turns out EVs represent less than 2% of all vehicles on the road in the Golden State.

Reality check: We're a long way from a "tipping point" for electric vehicles. In fact, the EV revolution has barely begun in the U.S. and it's playing out in super-slow motion — even in places where plug-in cars make the most sense.

Why it matters: Automakers are pouring billions of dollars into electric vehicle development in the face of urgent warnings about climate change. But with more than 278 million cars, SUVs, and pickups overall on U.S. roads, the historic shift away from gasoline will take years, if not decades, to play out.

  • Axios is tracking the transition, using monthly vehicle registration data from S&P Global Mobility.

The latest data: 4.6% of the new vehicles registered in the U.S. this past May were electric, according to the research firm's most recent data.

  • That's more than double EVs' share of monthly registrations in May 2021 (1.9%).

Yes, but: EVs still account for only about 0.6% of all registered vehicles in the U.S. Take California's EVs away, and it’s just 0.4%.

By the numbers: As of April 1, Florida has the second-highest share of the country's EVs, at 6.7%. Then comes Texas (5.4%), Washington (4.4%), and New York (3.6%).

  • Yet, EVs account for only 1% or less of all vehicles within each of these states.
  • Besides California, the states or areas with the highest share of EVs within their own borders: Hawaii (1.3%), and the District of Columbia (1.2%).

Tesla still commands the EV space even though consumers have more choices now — 46 electric models were available in May 2022 vs. 25 a year ago.

  • Two Teslas — the Model 3 and Model Y — accounted for more than half of the 53,000 electric vehicles registered nationwide in May.

What they're saying: "Tesla’s brand loyalty more than doubled in the month of May and was higher than any brand in the industry, including Toyota and Ford," S&P Global Mobility analyst Tom Libby tells Axios.

  • However, Ford's Mustang Mach-E is growing in popularity, along with two Korean models: the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6.

What to watch: "We’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg in terms of what’s coming," says Libby.

  • There will be 63 EVs on the market by year's end, according to S&P Global Mobility's forecast. Expect 192 EVs to choose from by 2026, and 253 by the end of 2030.
  • Congress' new climate package could spark further EV adoption — if it passes.
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