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Where Have the Electric Vehicles Gone?     

We need to know in order to plan from here.

 

It is very exciting to see more and more Electric Vehicles (EVs) being sold. We have more of them on the road than ever before. National sales figures show over 40,000 on the road. It is becoming a bit of a pony race as to which ones are selling the most.

 

One thing that is prompting this article is that the Center for Sustainable Energy (CSE) has just released data about the Clean Vehicle Rebate Program in California. The data shows where many of the vehicles are located.

 

Probably the most significant reason to look at the distribution of the Electric Vehicles is the current effort to develop plans for the charging infrastructure. Knowing the location of the vehicles is basic to figuring out what chargers will be needed and what level of use to anticipate for each location. It will be a key to the success of each location and should therefore be of concern to those investing in the infrastructure. That includes the hosting sites, the network operators and to the government funding sources. It should be of particular concern to agency staff responsible for planning the deployment of chargers.  A recommendation for chargers that are redundant or in the wrong location would be subject to challenges that could compromise the success of any efforts.

 

The number of vehicles in any one area will strongly influence the priorities for the type of chargers needed. As DC fast chargers can cost as much as $135,000 to plan, purchase and install it is important to know that there are vehicles that need them and would support them. Standard 220 volt, level 2, J1772 charging stations cost considerably less and would require fewer EVs to support each location.

 

There is another good reason for looking at this issue now. It comes at a time of transition in the market. There is a good case to make that the early adopters have already made their purchases. There are enough sales and enough models on the market to suggest that the people who have been waiting for EVs have been able to get one. This is supported by the leveling off or decline of sales of most models with the Volt being the exception. This is an indication the EVs are now taking the next step toward the mainstream.

 

That points to the current distribution being a clear picture of the location of the early adopters. It is pretty cool to be able to see where we are as a group.

 

A good starting point is to look at the National Total Sales. A summary of the sales figures being reported for this country as a whole is on the table below for the major models.

 

 

 

USA Sales

2010

2011

2012

Cumulative

 

Total

Total

Total through 7/31/12

LEAFs

18

9674

3543

13235

MiEV

 

80

287

367

Focus Electric

 

8

129

137

Subtotal Known AEVs

 

9762

3959

13721

Volts

326

7671

10666

18663

Toyota Plug In Hybrids

 

 

5028

5028

Grand Total

37412

 

Clearly there is a shift toward the Plug in Hybrid vehicles with the Volt taking a strong leadership position. The All Electric Vehicles (AEV) are in need of a boost to move them to a stronger market position. The good news is that we have significant start for the new generation of battery electric vehicles.

 

It is important to note that the estimate of EVs does not include data on several specific vehicles. Several companies are not reporting the number of vehicles sold including Tesla, Fiskar, Wheego and a few others. We have some reports of the numbers involved but that data is very limited. It is pretty clear however, that the numbers sold by these companies is a small percentage of the total sold. This is particularly true in California.

 

One exception within this group is Tesla. The only substantial estimate for the number of Tesla Roadsters sold is that the world wide total could be up to 2,500. Very little is documented beyond that.

 

With at least 2500 Volts sold in August the total EVs on the road is now over 40 thousand. That is pretty exciting. But where have they all gone and where do we need chargers to help these vehicles and to get more like them on the road.

 

The first big division would be to figure out how many are in California verses other states. The breakdown is sketchy at best but we do have some information to guide us. There have been a few reports of actual sales numbers in California. There are also various estimates for the percentage of the vehicles being sold in California verses the rest of the country. Some of the sources for this information are listed at the end of this article.

 

The Clean Vehicle Rebate Program (CVRP) data shows how many vehicles have been registered that took advantage of the rebate in California starting in 2010. It shows what vehicles were sold in which zip code area. The claims under this program do not cover all the EVs brought into California particularly when it comes to Plug in Hybrids. There is a map available at

 http://energycenter.org/index.php/incentive-programs/clean-vehicle-rebate-project

 

The data behind this has been made available through Michael Chiacos from Plug in Central Coast and Colin Santulli at the Center for Sustainable Energy. This data is a great start for finding out what is actually happening in your area with Plug in Vehicles.

 

The LEAF and the Volt were the dominant vehicles on the California market through the end of 2011. Here is a reasonable estimate for the number of each sold in that time. This is a fairly conservative estimate. There are others that would put these numbers at least ten percent higher.

 

CA Sales through Dec 31 2011

LEAFs

4746

Assumes all CVRP claims are for LEAFs and almost all LEAFs claimed the rebate

Volts

3797

Assumes 8 Volts sold for every 10 LEAFs per national average

 

Sorting out how many electric vehicles were sold in California in 2012 is a little more complicated as the discussions at the end of this article will describe. If we take the more conservative reports and assumptions we come up with the following figures

 

CA 2012 Sales through July 31

 

LEAFs

904

Assumes all CVRP claims are for LEAFs and that almost all LEAFs claimed the rebate

Volts

2727

Reported figures for 1st Qtr. plus assumes 28% of US Volt sales for the 2nd  Qtr.  plus July were in California per reports

Plug In Prius

3017

Assumes 60% of Plug in Prius sold in US were in California per reports

 

The CVRP data in the plug in hybrid category shows 2527 claims for this period compared to the over 5700 vehicles in this sales estimate. This is a substantial difference between sales and rebate claims. As the rebate is much lower for these vehicles ($1500) that could be one reason for the lower claim rate. People waiting until they file their taxes to claim the rebate could be another. A third possible reason is that the people who get a vehicle on a 36 month lease may not know they can claim the rebate.

 

Anyone who wants to get more EVs on the road can help by making sure that potential buyers know the facts about these rebates. New buyers can file for the rebate right way and get a check quickly. People who lease any AEV or PHEV for at least 36 months can file for a rebate right away and cover most of the upfront cost of the lease. Please refer to the Energy Center website for the CVRP for more information (see the link above).

 

This brings us to the estimated total number of electric drive vehicles in the state.

 

Estimated Total Vehicles in CA through July 31

 

LEAFs

5650

Volts

6524

Plug In Prius

3017

 

The LEAF count is actually the number of CVRP claims for all Light duty ZEVs which would include some for Teslas, MiEVs, and the Ford Focus as well as a few other claims. It would be good to get more accurate numbers for these and to see if more claims for rebates are filed for this period once the tax season for 2012 has come and gone. In other words it is pretty clear these are underestimates.

 

The California Clean Vehicle Rebate Program (CVRP) data includes numbers for All Electric Vehicles (AEVs) under the category of Light Duty ZEVs. These numbers come close to agreeing with the estimates for the vehicles in California. This indicates the distribution should be the closest estimates of any data presented in this article.

 

There is still a question of where the Volts and Plug In Prius can be found within California. The number of Volts sold nationally up to the end of December 2011 is known. The ratio of Volts sold to LEAFs is also known to be a ratio of 8 Volts to 10 LEAFs.  That ratio has given a good idea of how many Volts are in California at the end of 2011. That same ratio has been applied to the County by County data to spread the Volt distribution around the state. Those numbers are included in the table below.

 

The distribution of sales for 2012 through July is a little more complicated. It has already been noted that the total sales of Plug in Hybrids reported is significantly higher than the number of CVRP claims for that category. That means we do not have a solid set of numbers.

 

We can however make an assumption that will get us a set of working numbers. The assumption is that the distribution of plug in hybrid owners who are NOT making a CVRP claim is consistent throughout the state. That would result in the number of claims in each location being lower than the actual sales by the same percentage. If we allocate the total sales numbers to the counties based on each counties percentage of the total Plug In Hybrid CVRP claims we get a working number for each vehicle in each county. The table below includes the sales of Volts and Plug In Prius vehicles from 2012 on this basis.

 

It would be interesting to get a further break down for other states. Please submit any source of information you might have about that so we can pass that along in future articles.

 

This discussion gives a pretty good idea of what has gone into creating the table below that shows the number of EVs by county. It should be clear that this chart is not giving actual numbers but rather a set of working numbers as a starting point for planning. Anyone concerned about how accurate this data would be can engage in an even more detailed discussion of what has gone into these numbers. Just go to www.newenergyanswers.com and make contact.

 

Any organization that is interested in helping put chargers in place may want more information about all this. They are also invited to get in touch to get a more detailed breakdown by City.

 

The first column of numbers can be considered an estimate of the distribution by county. It is made up of a combination that is predominately LEAFs, with a good number of Tesla’s. There would be a few other All Electric Vehicles (AEVs) thrown in.

 

Actual Total

Estimated

Estimated

Lght Dty ZEV

Total

Total

CVRP (AEVS)

Volts

PI Prius

Alameda

429

472

207

Amador

3

3

1

Butte

11

9

2

Calaveras

2

2

Contra Costa

189

237

124

Del Norte

1

1

El Dorado

19

28

17

Fresno

22

19

7

Humboldt

9

8

2

Kern

16

13

6

Lake

4

2

Los Angeles

1177

1528

827

Madera

5

5

1

Marin

113

107

41

Mariposa

1

1

Mendocino

3

2

Merced

4

3

1

Monterey

12

16

8

Napa

16

18

7

Nevada

5

5

2

Orange

372

841

653

Placer

36

34

13

Riverside

78

137

99

Sacramento

93

97

48

San Benito

2

4

4

San Bernardino

55

95

75

San Diego

1086

919

152

San Francisco

201

142

63

San Joaquin

21

18

7

San Luis Obispo

28

24

2

San Mateo

302

297

106

Santa Barbara

58

48

6

Santa Clara

923

943

377

Santa Cruz

67

63

20

Shasta

9

4

Solano

21

30

17

Sonoma

84

78

24

Stanislaus

9

7

2

Sutter

2

2

Tehama

1

Trinity

2

1

Tulare

11

7

1

Tuolumne

3

1

Ventura

113

142

73

Yolo

33

36

16

Yuba

2

1

 

Disclaimer about the accuracy of this data.

 

It should be noted that the numbers reported are taken from the several sources including those identified at the end of this article. The limited nature of this data means that this information has limited accuracy. Furthermore there are assumptions in processing this data that will introduce even more concerns about the how closely these numbers match actual vehicles in any one location shown. This is just a start and gives us a reasonable set of working numbers to initiate planning.

 

This can be made more accurate by finding more and better sources of information and you can help with that by passing along the sources you run across. We are in this for the long haul so please feel free to contribute to this ongoing effort.

 

The crunching of the data that is reported here has been done using the raw data provided by the Center for Sustainable Energy (CSE) and other sources. The crunching has been done by New Energy Answers and the results are not the responsibility of the CSE. Anyone who wants to know more about the processing is invited to get in touch by calling 805-652-1482.

 

This information is copyrighted September 2012 all rights reserved by New Energy Answers Inc. and the author Russell Sydney. Not for profit organizations and government agencies are hereby authorized to use this information provided an adequate disclaimer about accuracy is included and that the author is fully acknowledged.

 

Sources of information

A primary source for this information is from articles by JOHN VOELCKER editor for the Green Car reports http://www.greencarreports.com/news/new-car-sales.

http://www.seattlepi.com/business/article/Chevy-Volt-broke-monthly-sales-record-in-August-3824928.php#ixzz25HXZOgM5

http://articles.latimes.com/2012/jul/21/business/la-fi-0721-autos-electric-vehicles-20120721

http://www.plugincars.com/chevy-volts-built-after-feb-6-qualify-californias-coveted-white-hov-stickers-111647.html

http://www.greencarcongress.com/2012/02/prius-20120228.html

http://www.freep.com/article/20120605/BUSINESS01/206050424/California-can-t-get-enough-of-the-Volt-as-sales-surge

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nissan_Leaf

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toyota_Prius_Plug-in_Hybrid

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