Apr 12, 2023 - News

Cleveland EV registration rates lag behind peer cities

Data: S&P Global Mobility; Chart: Axios Visuals

Electric vehicles are gaining popularity nationwide but have yet to spark much interest in Cleveland.

Driving the news: EV registration rates in Cleveland were dead last among 28 Axios Local cities in January 2023, per data analyzed by Axios' Joann Muller.

By the numbers: EVs accounted for only 2.2% of new vehicle registrations in the Cleveland-Akron metro area, up marginally from 1.9% in January last year.

  • Through 2022, monthly registration rates ranged from 1.3% to 2.6%.

Meanwhile, other cities saw significant upticks, with the most pronounced growth on the West Coast.

  • Seattle's registration rate climbed from 8.4% to 17.2%; Portland's from 5.5% to 13.1%; and San Francisco's from 26.7% to 32.9% — all from January 2022 to January 2023.

Yes, but: Even in the Midwest, where EV adoption rates lagged behind the coasts, peer cities leapfrogged Cleveland.

  • Columbus (3.7%), Detroit (4%) and Indianapolis (3.1%) all had higher rates in January.
  • Chicago was a regional outlier at 7.6%.

Zoom out: EVs are gaining popularity as a cleaner alternative to gasoline-powered cars, but obstacles like limited charging access and high prices are still preventing many buyers from going electric.

  • Concerns about cold Midwest weather affecting battery performance might also be a factor — a challenge Axios' Mueller faced in Ohio during an early March road trip from Florida to Michigan.

Zoom in: In Cleveland, Mayor Justin Bibb touted a new free EV charging station at Frederick Douglass Recreation Center in Lee-Harvard in December, as part of a push to install EV infrastructure in historically underserved areas.

  • Three more stations, funded by an Ohio EPA grant and additional federal funds, will be installed at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, the West Side Market and City Hall.

Reality check: Axios visited the Lee-Harvard station yesterday. A rec center employee told us that since its installation, they could count on one hand the number of drivers they've seen using it.

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