Sustaining electric vehicle market growth in U.S. cities

Published: 2016.10.21

Nic Lutsey, Peter Slowik, and Lingzhi Jin

This report analyzes the state of the electric vehicle market development and the actions that are driving it. Within the report, thirty-three unique city, state, and utility electric vehicle promotion actions are catalogued across the 50 most populous U.S. metropolitan areas. The actions include consumer incentives, public and workplace charging infrastructure, and various other local actions. The report identifies best practice policies across the different U.S. markets, and uses a statistical analysis to discern links between the promotion actions and electric vehicle uptake.

The analysis finds statistically significant links between increasing electric vehicle sales share and these factors: electric vehicle model availability, consumer incentives, public charging infrastructure, and local promotional activities. Metropolitan areas with more of these measures are seeing higher electric vehicle uptake.

Based on the analysis, the authors conclude:

  1. Comprehensive actions by diverse stakeholders are key to expanding the electric vehicle market. Measures include workplace charging, utility support, state incentives, and local promotion actions help overcome consumer barriers to adopting the new technology.
  2. Electric vehicle market growth is linked to model availability. Most consumers in the U.S. only have only had access to a handful of electric vehicle models in 2014 and 2015, but electric vehicle uptake has been much greater in markets where more electric models were available.
  3. Public charging infrastructure remains a key barrier to electric vehicle sales in many areas. More expansive charging networks are linked with higher relative electric vehicle uptake, and leading electric vehicle markets tend to have four times the charging per capita of the U.S. average.
  4. Incentives are helping develop the early electric vehicle market. Financial consumer incentives are drivers for electric vehicle uptake in California, Colorado, and Washington state markets.