May 17, 2023 - Business

EVs' share of Portland-area new cars surges

Data: Oregon Department of Transportation; Chart: Axios Visuals

Battery-only electric vehicles (EVs) accounted for 18% of monthly new vehicle registrations across Portland's three counties in February, up from just over 9% a year before.

  • Plug-in hybrids kept, well, plugging along, hovering around 3% of new vehicle registrations over the past year.

Why it matters: EVs have no direct carbon emissions. Plug-in vehicles rely on gas-powered engines as a backup.

Of note: A U.S. Department of Energy calculator lets you see total emissions of EVs and plug-ins, by model, year and zip code.

  • It takes into account emissions from the electricity used to charge up your car.

Zoom out: Portland outpaces the country as a whole in new EV registrations, but national data shows that the rest of the country is starting to catch up, reports Axios' Joann Muller, who has taken an EV on a 1,500-mile trip.

  • In January, EVs made up 7% of new vehicle registrations in the U.S., up from 4.1% a year before.

Zoom in: In Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties, Tesla dominated February's new EV registrations, taking nearly 41% of the combined local market.

  • The Model Y was most popular among Tesla buyers, with nearly 22% of the metro area market. The Model 3 was next at about 15%.
  • No other brand broke into double digits of market share.

Context: Nationally, Tesla's market share continues to shrink — from 72% in January 2022 to 54% this year — as competitors roll out new models.

  • At the end of 2022, there were 47 electric models available for sale in the U.S., up from 33 the prior year.

The intrigue: E-bikes. The U.S. imported 1.1 million e-bikes last year, Light Electric Vehicle Association board chair Ed Benjamin told Axios, apparently outpacing EV car sales for the second year in a row.

  • Oregon lawmakers are considering a bill that would put $6 million toward subsidizing e-bikes.

The bottom line: Oregon regulations require that by 2035, "all new passenger cars, SUVs, and light-duty pickup trucks must either be battery electric or plug-in hybrid electric vehicles."

  • The state suspended its rebate program to subsidize electric vehicles earlier this month, citing "overwhelming demand and limited funding."

Reality check: Gas-powered cars will still be on the road a long time, as people keep them longer. The average age of U.S. cars is now at an all-time high of 12.5 years, writes Axios' Muller and Nathan Bomey

  • In Portland's tri-county area, the share of new gas-powered cars has been falling, but they still dominate, making up nearly 79% of new vehicle registrations in February.
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