Evaluating electric vehicle market growth across U.S. cities

The electric vehicle market in the United States has grown from a few thousand vehicles in 2010 to more than 315,000 vehicles sold annually from 2018 to 2020. In 2020, the electric share of new vehicle sales was approximately 2.4%, an increase from about 2% in 2019. This study, an update of our previous analysis of state, local, and utility company actions to promote electric vehicles, shows the states and cities with the greatest electric vehicle market success continue to have the strongest and most comprehensive policy supports.

The analysis finds that regulations that require greater electric vehicle model availability are essential to market growth. States with zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) regulations had a combined new electric vehicle share of 5% and typically at least 13 more electric models available than states without such regulations, which had a 1.3% average electric vehicle share. States with ZEV regulations were responsible for about two-thirds of 2020 U.S. electric vehicle sales and less than one-third of overall light-duty vehicle sales.

Metropolitan areas with the greatest electric vehicle uptake in 2020 had a strong mix of state, city, and utility promotion actions. Eight of the 10 highest electric uptake areas had the most such actions, with 31 to 44 actions. In contrast, the areas with the lowest uptake tended to have less than half this amount. Consumer incentives remain important for market development. The top 11 metropolitan areas with the highest uptake had substantial consumer incentives ranging from $1,500 to more than $5,500. These incentives are offered in various forms, including state, city, and utility purchase incentives, HOV access, toll reduction, free parking, and other forms of fee reduction.

This analysis also confirms that electric vehicle growth is linked to greater availability of public and workplace charging. Of the 200 most populous metropolitan areas, the ten with the highest uptake averaged a 10% electric share and 935 public chargers per million population. In contrast, half of the U.S. population lives in an area with just 20% of the public charging availability in those top-ten markets. For workplace charging, the ten areas with the highest uptake averaged 430 workplace chargers per million population, while half of the U.S. population lives in an area with less than 10% of this leading benchmark.