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Silicon Valley sets pace for electric vehicle adoption

Electric car imageNew data shows region accounts for nearly 20% of light-duty electric vehicles in California

April 20, 2019 – The Joint Venture Silicon Valley Institute for Regional Studies reported that Silicon Valley’s total number of registered electric vehicles (EVs) surpassed 80,000 in 2018, comprising nearly 20% of all such vehicles in California, and by far the highest numbers of any region per capita. While Silicon Valley vehicle owners account for 8.3% of all registered light-duty vehicles in California, the region accounts for a disproportionate share (19.4%) of all electric vehicles.

According to Institute analysis, Silicon Valley drivers have registered 83,440 light-duty electric vehicles in total, including 63% battery electric and 37% plug-in hybrid vehicles. This analysis includes data released from the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) March 19 on vehicle registrations by fuel type as of October 2018. This newly-available dataset is a more accurate gauge of electric vehicle adoption than the more commonly used California Clean Vehicle Rebate Project (CVRP) totals, since many vehicle owners have incomes that render them ineligible for the rebate. Higher income consumers are not eligible for rebates if their gross annual incomes are above $150,000 for a single person, $204,000 for a head-of-household, and $300,000 for a joint tax return.

In 2018, only two thirds of newly-registered electric vehicles in Silicon Valley were issued a rebate. For example, in Los Altos Hills where the median household income is $248,000 per year, most EV owners do not qualify for the CVRP rebate. Among the top-ten Silicon Valley cities for EV adoption, Palo Alto, Los Altos Hills, and Saratoga have the highest shares of Tesla ownership with Teslas accounting for more than 40% of registered light-duty EVs, compared to 21% in the state overall. While 18% of all California electric vehicle rebates have been issued to Silicon Valley drivers, Silicon Valley residents account for 23% of the registered all-electric/battery electric vehicles (and 19% of all EVs including plug-in hybrids).

The DMV dataset is useful to better understand the vehicle mix within the region. Of all registered light-duty vehicles in Silicon Valley, 88% are fueled by gasoline, 6% are hybrids, and 3% are EVs (2% all-electric and 1% plug-in hybrids). In comparison, only 2% of light-duty vehicles registered throughout the state are EVs. Tesla is the most popular EV in Silicon Valley with 39% of all EVs registered to Silicon Valley owners, who account for 28% of the Tesla registrations throughout the state (with more than 9% in San Jose and Fremont alone).

“It’s no surprise Silicon Valley residents are embracing the shift to electric vehicles — we have an environmentally-minded population. Plus, so much of the R&D is happening right here within the region. Our residents have a stake in the technology proliferation,” says Rachel Massaro, Vice President and Senior Research Associate for the Institute.

Overall, nine of the top-ten California counties ranked by registered light-duty EVs per capita are in the Bay Area, with the highest per capita EV adoption in Santa Clara County (28.4 EVs per 1,000 residents). Among registered light-duty EVs in Silicon Valley, 39% are Teslas, 23% are Chevrolets (Volt and Bolt), 14% are Nissan (LEAF), 8% are Toyota (Prius), and 6% are Ford (Fusion and Focus). Statewide, California has a similar breakdown by maker with a smaller share of Nissans and a larger share of Toyotas and Fords.

“Consumers have lots of choices when it comes to EVs these days, and that’s playing into the accelerated adoption we’re seeing locally,” says Institute for Regional Studies President, Russell Hancock.

Silicon Valley includes the city-defined region as defined in the 2019 Silicon Valley Index.

Chart 1: Light Duty Vehicles, by Fuel Type Chart 2: Cumulative Count of Registered Electric Vehicles Chart 3: Share of Registered Vehicles, by Make Chart 4: Cumulative Count of Electric Vehicle Rebates and Registered Light Duty Vehicles, and Share of California Chart 5: Share of Registered Teslas in California Chart 6: Share of Registered Light-Duty Electric Vehicles, by Make Chart 7: Silicon Valley Share of California Light Duty & Light Duty Electric Vehicles Table 1: Electric Vehicles per Capita

For further reference:

Electric Vehicle Adoption

Electric Vehicle Rebates by Make

Electric Vehicle Infrastructure

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Established in 1993, Joint Venture provides analysis and action on issues affecting the Silicon Valley economy and quality of life. The organization brings together established and emerging leaders—from business, government, academia, labor and the broader community—to spotlight issues, launch projects and work toward innovative solutions. For more information, visit www.jointventure.org.

About the Silicon Valley Institute for Regional Studies

The Silicon Valley Institute for Regional Studies provides research and analysis on a host of issues facing Silicon Valley’s economy and society. The Institute is housed within Joint Venture Silicon Valley. For more information, visit www.siliconvalleyindicators.org.

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