Apr 7, 2023 - Business

EVs dominate San Francisco market as choices expand

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

Electric vehicles (EVs) accounted for 32.9% of monthly new vehicle registrations in the San Francisco metro area in January 2023 — up from 26.7% in January 2022.

  • EVs took between a fifth and a third of new vehicle registrations in the Bay Area each month last year, peaking in July at 33.3%.
  • Teslas are still the most popular brand choice, but that's changing.

Why it matters: San Francisco has long led U.S. metro areas 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.

Zoom out: Nationally, EVs accounted for 7% of new vehicle registrations in January, up from 4.1% in January 2022. Options are also expanding.

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

Zoom in: In the Bay Area, Tesla's Model Y was the most popular in January's new EV registrations, taking 35% of the local market.

  • Tesla's Model 3 and Chevy's Bolt came in next, with around 14% and 10% respectively.
  • Ford's Mustang Mach-E and Volkswagen's ID.4 trailed with single-digit shares.

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

  • Despite cutting prices in January, that share will likely slide below 50% in the next month or two, Tom Libby, associate director of industry analysis at S&P Global Mobility, told Axios.

Reality check: Less than 1% of the 279 million cars and light trucks on American roads are electric.

  • Even in California, the country's leading EV market, they represent just 2.6% of all registered automobiles.

Driving the news: Existing consumer tax credits for EV purchases are being reworked — again — in part to bolster U.S. manufacturing and reduce reliance on China.

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.

  • California's program offering up to $1,000 off new e-bike purchases — eligibility based on income — is expected to open sometime this spring, following similar, popular programs in Denver and elsewhere.
  • The rebates are "going to be gone pretty quickly," Scott Anderson of Pedal Ahead, which is administering the program, told Axios. "We want to make it really easy for people."

The bottom line: California rules say that by 2035, all new cars and half of new trucks sold in the state must be emission-free.

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