2019 Independence Day EV Count



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Sunday July 28, 2019 2019 Independence Day EV Count This year for Independence day Plug-in America set a challenge to go out and do a count of Plug-in Vehicles around your neighborhood.  The results were submitted to the Plug-in America web site and then tallied to try and get an estimate of the percentage of vehicles that were plug-in by state.. 


This was not, of course, a scientific study and Plug-in America said so up front.  The idea was to create a fun thing to do on Independence day.  The process they suggested was to go out and count 100 cars noting which of these were ICE cars, which were BEV, and which were plug-in hybrid.  It was OK to count more or less cars than 100 but Plug-in America only used those counts that had 100 or more cars in their tabulation.


In total 13,750 cars were counted of which 569 were electric.  If these numbers were scientifically accurate then 4.14% of cars in the US would be electric right now with 2.45% of these being BEV and the other 1.69% being Plug-in Hybrid.  When broken down by state the one with the highest percentage of electric cars was, not surprisingly, California.  California was found to have 8.16% of cars on the road being electric..   


Living in California I thought I would put this to the test so I took a walk around the parking lot at work and counted 100 cars.  I found 90 ICE vehicles, 1 Fuel Cell vehicle (Toyota Mirai), 8 BEVs (1 Focus EV, 1 Leaf, 1 Tesla Model X, 1 Tesla Model S, and 5 Tesla Model 3), and 1 Plug-in Hybrid (Clarity PHEV).  For fairness I didn't count my own Prius Plug-in.  That gives me 9% of cars are Plug-in which is pretty closely with the results Plug-in America got.


Plug-in America has said that this isn't a scientific study although I do seem to have confirmed the results.  Here is what makes it less than scientific.  First the samples are not random as they are taken by followers of Plug-in America who are more likely to live in locations where Plug-in cars are popular.  The results of the study showed counts for only 19 states out of 50 which is not very representational of the US as a whole.  People also may not have used the same method to count cars.  For example it would be more difficult to spot some plug-in hybrids and BEVs if you stood on a street corner and watched cars go by instead of walking around the neighborhood or, like I did, a parking lot.  For example it is very difficult to spot the difference between the Honda Clarity PHEV, Electric, or Fuel Cell versions unless you can read the tiny sticker on the rear..


I did come across some interesting things with the count. 


Three ZEV states, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont were not included in the survey.  This means that either nobody sent in entries from these three states, or the entries that they  sent in included less than 100 cars. Plug-in America only included counts that had at least 100 cars.


The second highest percentage of cars counted was in Illinois which came in with 7.5% of the count being Plug-in cars.  While Illinois is not a ZEV state several models that are not available in all states have  recently become available in Illinois.  That includes the Toyota Prius Prime and the Honda Clarity PHEV.  Some BEVs like the Fiat 500e and Honda Clarity Electric are not available there, and electrics from both Kia and Hyundai need to be special ordered.


Two ZEV states, Massachusetts, and Maine, along with Delaware, had only BEV counted, and showed no plug-in hybrids.  I'm not sure if this is related to the difficulty of identifying some plug-in hybrids, or that they are just not selling them in numbers in these states.  I suspect that both the Volt and the BMW i3 REx have been counted as BEV in some cases.  The i3 REx is also a car that is difficult to distinguish from the BEV version unless you note the gas filler at on the front driver's side fender.  People also have a tendency to call the Volt an EV even though it is actually a PHEV.


Plug-in America plans to run the Plug-in count annually on the 4th of July and I hope we can get more participation, especially from states not covered in this year's survey.  While it will never be a scientific survey, the more participants they get and the larger the coverage area, the closer it will approximate to the real world.  If you didn't participate this year, think about joining next year, it's actually fun to do.


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