Electric Vehicle Report Card

Electric Vehicle Report Card

At the end of 2017 the status of electric vehicles hasn’t changed significantly.

For the year, the sale of plug-in electric vehicles (PHEVs) increased by 24% YOY, while battery powered vehicles (BEV) had increased by 22% YOY.

PHEV and BEV sales remain at only 1.1% of total vehicle sales in the United States.

Quarterly sales are shown here:

2017 EV Sales

Data is from the Electric Drive Transportation Association.

Definition of different types of electrified vehicles:

  • Fuel cell vehicles use a fuel cell pack to generate electricity rather than using batteries. (These vehicles are experimental and are not included in the above data.)
  • BEVs are vehicles powered entirely by battery power.
  • PHEVs use the battery to travel the first 35 miles, then switch to an internal combustion engine to extend its range.
  • HEVs are essentially battery-assisted vehicles that use the internal combustion engine to power the car. Batteries don’t provide the motive power for the vehicle.

The two major news stories affecting electric vehicles in 2017 were:

  1. Production of the Tesla Model 3 fell far short of the 5,000 per month rate predicted by Elon Musk.
  2. The Chinese government is subsidizing and otherwise supporting the sale of BEVs. Their motivation is to cut smog in major cities and to achieve a leadership position in battery technology.

Since 2010, the approximate introductory date for PHEVs and BEVs, a total of 753,886 PHEV and BEVs have been sold in the US.

Assuming none have been scrapped, they account for a minuscule 0.3% of all light vehicles on the road in the United States.

California has around 300,000 of the total, or around 0.1%.

There are not yet enough PHEVs or BEVs on the road in any state to have created a need for upgrading the power generation or distribution system to accommodate these vehicles.

Major unresolved issues:

  • Will the average person, other than the rich and famous, buy BEVs if the purchase isn’t subsidized?
  • Can the cost of batteries come down to where BEV prices are comparable to gasoline & diesel powered vehicles?
  • Will CO2 emissions be reduced sufficiently to achieve the primary motivation for developing BEVs? (Power plants generating the electricity needed for recharging batteries will continue to be fueled by fossil fuels.)
  • Will ancillary costs, such as replacing distribution transformers with larger units, unduly increase the cost of replacing traditional vehicles with BEVs? (The public will pay for these additional costs either directly trough taxation or indirectly through the price of the product.)

. . .
Monthly sales are shown below.

Monthly 2017 EV Sales
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