Sales of EVs, Hybrids Continue to Climb – Where Do We Stand Now?

U.S. sales of hybrid, electric and “clean” diesel vehicles keep going up. Americans bought more than 57,000 green vehicles in June, notes Auto Blog Green, making the month the highest in sales growth for green cars over the same period in 2012.

For the full year through June, U.S. consumers bought nearly 320,000 electric, hybrid and diesel vehicles. That’s almost a 20 percent gain over 2012’s first six months. Purely electric (or plug-in) car sales alone showed even higher growth numbers, more than 80 percent, over the previous year.

Why the Growth?

Sky-high gas prices are a main driver. With the U.S. national average for a gallon of gas at $4.11 last month, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, filling the family car every week is a big drain on Americans’ budgets. It’s cheaper to charge and maintain an electric car (EV) or hybrid, which if course, is more attractive to consumers. Depending on the current gas prices across the U.S., electric recharging costs can be substantially lower than fuel; charging costs anywhere from a fifth to a tenth of gasoline. And if you’re currently spending $100-$150 a week on gas, those savings can make a big difference.

Charging Stations

Photo by Flickr user quinn.anya

One drawback of EVs is the distance one can travel on a single charge. The new 2013 Nissan Leaf can go about 80 miles on a single charge, depending on driving conditions, weather, traffic and more. And charging these cars at home isn’t yet a two-minute activity: A professional EV charging unit can cost upward of $2,000, but will charge your car quicker than a 200-volt outlet, which takes about 7-8 hours to fully charge the new Nissan Leaf. A regular 100-volt outlet will double that re-charging time.

But a ray of hope exists. EV charging stations are popping up in urban centers across the country. In Phoenix, for instance, charging stations have grown to cover wide parts of the Valley, and EV owners can log onto plugshare.com to find them. Potential electric car buyers can test-drive a hybrid or EV car at the Chevrolet dealer in Phoenix.

Brighter Energy Future

Industry insiders see the rise of electric cars and lesser dependence on foreign oil as a good combination for future growth of the industry. One estimate from the International Energy Agency notes that there could be as many as 20 million electric vehicles on the road in less than a decade. Technology companies, too, see both civic and business opportunities. In June, companies like SAP, Google, GE and other electric and technology firms came together to discuss opportunities at the Silicon Valley Leadership Group’s Driving Charged and Connected 2013 conference.

But ultimately, it’s up to the United States government to lay down immediate energy policies to oversee this growth. In doing so, it will help bring about a new era of certainty for both electric car makers like Tesla and consumers who would rather re-charge than fill up.

Photo by Flickr user RambergMediaImages