Navigant Research Blog

How Incentives Are Driving EV Markets in California and Oregon

Anne Wrobetz — June 22, 2015

In a recent study conducted by Navigant Research, 1,002 consumers in the United States were asked their opinions on electric vehicle (EV) ownership, its advantages, and its disadvantages. The survey revealed some not-so-surprising results of incentives and how they affect EV purchases, including how consumer opinions on tax credits and charging infrastructure are influencing the decision on whether to purchase electric cars.

In Oregon, where 23.5% of participants responded that the biggest impediment to purchasing an EV was the premium price, the only incentive offered is a credit of $750 on the purchase of a battery electric vehicle (BEV). The percentage was lower in California, which offers $2,500 in rebates for each battery-powered vehicle and allows EVs to travel in HOV lanes for free. Of those surveyed, 6.5% of California residents responded that the premium price was the reason they would be less likely to purchase an EV.

Range anxiety appears to be much more of a factor in California, with 19.6% of respondents saying it is their primary reason for not purchasing an EV. In Oregon, the number is 11.8%. While there are 2,114 charging stations in California and only 402 in Oregon, the number of charging stations per capita in California is .000055, whereas it’s .0001 in Oregon. This means that there are twice as many publicly available charging stations for each person in Oregon.

As far as the number of EVs in each state, the ratio is even worse. According to Navigant Research’s Electric Vehicle Geographic Forecasts report, in 2015, 106,550 light duty plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) are expected to be sold in California while only 4,872 are expected to be sold in Oregon. If California’s infrastructure for EVs does not keep up with growing EV sales, the ratio will get worse. However, three major California utilities (Pacific Gas& Electric, San Diego Gas & Electric, and Southern California Edison) have petitioned to install thousands of EV chargers.

What It Boils Down To

California and Oregon are fairly similar geographically: both are located on the Pacific coast, with temperate areas along the shoreline, and hotter weather east of the mountain ranges. However, the opinions and market influences for EV purchases are very different in both states. California consumers are disadvantaged in infrastructure, with a lower number of public EV chargers both per capita and per EV purchased. Oregonians receive a lesser financial incentive to purchase an EV, with only around one-third the state incentive as Californians receive. However, when it comes to actual purchases, Californians are still coming out ahead. In the light duty EV market, one car is projected to be purchased for every 364 people in California. In Oregon, the ratio is 815 people per PEV. So, when it comes to incentivizing EV purchases, it seems like offering strong financial incentives and HOV access takes precedence.

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