The Status of EVs in the United States

This post covers the current status of EVs in the United States, including population, rate of growth and factors impacting their expansion.

Electric vehicles are a keystone in the world’s efforts to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and keep the global temperature from increasing 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit. The transportation sector accounts for almost 30% of total US emissions, making its next several years of advancement or non advancement all the more important for efforts towards controlling CO2 output.

With more EVs comes a greater reliance on electricity and less so on fossil fuels or gasoline / petroleum; albeit most EV chargers draw electricity from a grid that is tied to a coal-fired power plant. Ambitions from the Biden Administration (such as a proposal to add 500,000 new EV chargers to our infrastructure) point towards our nation’s future, or what it will hopefully be, in terms of how reliant on EVs and renewables Americans will become. As it stands, America will need to come a long way in order to be competitive in the global EV market and position itself as a leader in sustainability- the last several decades saw our industries sacrifice the health of our environment and air for the sake of gas-fired engines that we ascertained could take us a bit farther mileage-wise.

A very helpful article from Pew Research Center, from which I obtained a lot of the information in this post.

According to Pew Research, the Unites States has 1.8 million registered EVs as of 2020. Almost 2 million may sound like a lot, however it’s almost nothing compared to other countries that have taken renewables more seriously early on. The United States sits at just 15% of the global EV population share, which is parked at 10 million EVs. Europe has about 3.26 million plug-in vehicles registered on its roads, and dominates the world’s EV adoption board at a compound annual growth rate of 60% from 2016 to 2020. China’s growth rate sits at 36%, while the United States stalls at just 17%. To catch up and become a global leader in sustainability, America will need to prioritize manufacturing of electric vehicles and the development of an infrastructure that can support them. Governments will also need to instill rebates and incentives so drivers are more tempted to buy.

In terms of this infrastructure, there is good news: the number of public charging stations in the United States has tripled from 2015, sitting at 96,000 from 32,000. A growing infrastructure is fantastic, as it instills the sense in Americans that their fears of running out of juice on the road are unwarranted. More public chargers means that Americans can charge while at work, at their local grocery stores, or even while parked at their apartment complexes. The affordability of this on part of the drivers is almost guaranteed- metering for public charging is often at the level of cents per kWh or hour, and some charging, like that provided by GreeInvest LLC is free. The up-front cost of EVs is often seen as a barrier for most drivers, but innovations with battery manufacturing are enabling EVs like the Nissan Leaf to have a price tag as low as $30,000. Despite this progress, the infrastructure for EVs is still severely underdeveloped at a national average of only 1 charger for every 2,570 EVs. A majority of Americans also cannot afford nor have the infrastructure to adopt at-home charging stations (typically Level 1 and take a full day to charge completely).

The most EV centric states with the best proportion of vehicles to people are California with 425,300 EVs, or 12 EVs for every 1,000 people and Hawaii with 10,670 vehicles, or 6 EVs per every 1,000 people.

As mentioned before, the primary factors impacting the prevalence of gas-powered vehicles to EVs include concerns over mileage, accessibility to charging stations, upfront cost and overall unfamiliarity with the concept of a battery-powered car. Many of these concerns will be addressed and diluted as EVs attain a higher market share, but a process equally as important will be the education of the average American in terms of sustainable options of transport. We cannot afford to continually support an industry that is dependent on resources that will be depleted in the next century and also poison our habitable environments through their usage.

Overall, the status of EVs in the United States is poor, but growing rapidly. The next decade will be huge for EV manufacturers, as many major vehicle companies like Ford will switch entirely to manufacturing EVs by 2030 and 2040. Charging stations are beginning to pop up around developed areas, primarily Los Angeles and San Francisco CA), and companies like ChargePoint, whose charging port GreeInvest utilizes in the EV ARC, are placing chargers in business’ lots around the country. Tesla is also putting DC Fast chargers around the US by the dozens every week.