U.S. pace of EV adoption rivals rate of California: analysis

Key Points

  • ⚡ New data indicates that EV adoption in the U.S. is accelerating and could rival California’s rate.
  • 📈 California has seen a 20% increase in BEV adoption over the last five years, reaching 22% of new car sales this year.
  • 🚗 California set a mandate to ban the sale of new gas cars by 2035 and achieve 35% BEV market share by 2026, influencing other states and countries to follow suit.
  • 🌎 The U.S. is trailing California’s adoption rate by about three years, but it could see 25% of new car sales being electric by 2026 if it follows a similar trajectory.
  • 🚗 Tesla leads the U.S. BEV market with a 60% market share and became the top-selling brand in California.
  • 🌍 Other countries like Norway, Sweden, and the Netherlands have even higher BEV adoption rates than California, while the U.S. follows closely behind.

Battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) are gaining traction in auto markets across the world, and new data shows that U.S. adoption rates could be set to skyrocket in the years to come. As new car sales bans loom in some areas, early BEV adoption data from the California auto market seems promising — and some think the rest of the country could be right behind the state.

According to data from Bloomberg Green, BEV adoption in California has jumped 20 percent in the last five years, going from just 2 percent of new car sales to 22 percent so far this year. The U.S. state reached a crucial tipping point, with BEVs making up 5 percent of new car sales in 2018, and adoption rates have jumped drastically since then.

The news comes following a California mandate banning the sale of new gas cars by 2035 enacted last year. The mandate also targets interim goals of reaching 35 percent BEV market share by 2026, and 68 percent by 2030. A number of U.S. states and other countries have followed suit with California’s mandate, including New York, New Jersey, Oregon, Canada, and more.

California was one of the earliest markets to have reached the 5-percent BEV tipping point, and that list currently includes 23 countries, according to Bloomberg’s analysis of global adoption rates. The publication says that the increase in California may outline how rapidly BEV adoption could occur for the rest of the U.S., with data showing that adoption rates tend to jump significantly after the 5 percent threshold for most countries.

The above graphic shows that the U.S. appears to be trailing behind California by about three years. Last month, California Governor Gavin Newsom celebrated the fact that, in Q2, one out of every four vehicles sold in California was electric, though the state didn’t expect to reach this goal until 2025. If the U.S. as a whole follows California’s adoption rate, 25 percent of new car sales nationwide could be fully electric by 2026.

California trails Norway (82 percent), Sweden (39 percent), and the Netherlands (32 percent) on the list of markets with the highest BEV adoption rates, while Germany (18 percent) and China (17 percent) follow behind the U.S. state.

Leading the charge is Tesla, currently capturing 60 percent of the U.S. BEV market share. Tesla also overtook Toyota as California’s top-selling brand in the second quarter of the year, largely driven by the automaker’s Model 3 sedan and Model Y SUV sales.

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