Project at a Glance

Title: Factors affecting plug-in electric vehicle sales in California

Principal Investigator / Author(s): DeShazo, JR

Contractor: UC Los Angeles

Contract Number: 13-303

Research Program Area: Climate Change, Economic Analysis

Topic Areas: Behavioral Change, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Impacts, Sustainable Communities


The project provides an overview of the growth of California's plug-in electric vehicle market from 2010 to 2015, describing several trends in the adoption of plug-in electric vehicles (PEV). It also identifies the household, housing, geographic, market and public policy factors that are correlated with the sales of new PEVs. The research finds that electric vehicle sales are not evenly spread across neighborhoods. During the study period, neighborhoods ranked in the top 25% by socio-economic status had purchased over 10 times more PEVs than neighborhoods in the bottom 25%. In addition to household income, the presence of single family homes has a very large and positive correlation with PEV sales.

The research also found that policies designed to incentivize PEV purchases are positively and significantly associated with higher PEVs sales. The California state program that permits drivers of single-occupancy PEVs to access carpool lanes was shown to have a particularly strong positive association with increased PEV sales in communities near carpool lanes. The Clean Vehicle Rebate Project that offers incentives for the purchase of eligible plug-in electric vehicles was also found to have a positive and significant correlation with additional sales. This research also shows that offering tiered and progressively higher rebates to moderate- and lower-income households increases policy cost effectiveness and equity outcomes. Recent policy modifications to the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project, the Enhanced Fleet Modernization Program (EFMP) and EFMP Plus-up Pilot Program were consistent with the findings and suggest that these updated policies are now both more cost effective and more equitable.

For questions regarding this research project, including available data and progress status, contact: Research Division staff at (916) 445-0753

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