How many electric cars are in the U.S.? 2024

Author pictureAuthor picture
Author picture
By:
Author picture
Edited by:
electric car charging on a charging port

A lot of new electric cars will soon be zooming down America’s highways. In the third quarter of 2023, electric and hybrid vehicles made up nearly 18% of light-duty vehicle sales in the U.S.

This high market share for electric cars is somewhat surprising, given that American consumer interest in electric cars is on the decline, according to a Pew Research Center study. One stated reason for the weak EV appetite is that Americans lack confidence in the future creation of a robust EV charging network. This skepticism may be because, as of 2022, there were only 43 public charging stations per 1,000 plug-in electric cars in the U.S. That’s one-third the ratio of charging stations in China, which is a far less wealthy country.

Key insights

The term 'electric vehicle' may refer to all-electric, hybrid, plug-in hybrid and/or fuel cell electric vehicles.

Jump to insight

As of 2022, there were 2,442,300 all-electric vehicles on America’s roads.4 That figure jumps to 9,761,400 when adding in hybrid, plug-in hybrid and fuel cell electric vehicles, as well.

Jump to insight

A record 918,460 all-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles were purchased in the U.S. in 2022.

Jump to insight

California is the number one state for electric vehicle (EV) ownership. Its residents drive 903,620 registered all-electric vehicles as of July 2023.

Jump to insight

EVs represented 17.7% of light-duty vehicle sales in the U.S. during the third quarter of 2023.

Jump to insight

General electric car statistics

The nearly 10 million EVs that traversed American roads in 2022 were more than double the number of EVs driven in the U.S. in 2016. The growing ubiquity of EVs has been driven by strong sales of all-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles: Estimated sales of these EV types jumped by more than 575% from 2016 to 2022.

However, widespread EV adoption in the U.S. is hampered by some formidable barriers. These include EVs’ relatively short driving ranges, the time necessary to charge their batteries and a scarcity of roadside charging options. Price is also an issue, though the cost of EVs has not risen as quickly as the cost of traditional vehicles.

Ownership by state

As of July 2023, Californians owned 903,620 all-electric vehicles, by far the largest number registered in any U.S. state. Floridians are second on the list, with 167,990 all-electric vehicles, and Texans are third with 149,000. These are also the nation’s most populous states.

By contrast, only 800 drivers in Wyoming own all-electric vehicles, and a mere 600 are driven in North Dakota.

The huge number of EVs in California can be explained, in part, by the rebates of up to $8,250 on qualifying EVs that the state formerly offered its residents. That’s equivalent to a 21% discount on a 2023 Tesla Model 3, which has a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $38,990. These incentivization programs were suspended, however, due to the unexpectedly high growth of EV sales in California, which reduced rebate funds “more quickly than expected,” according to the California Air Resources Board.

Ownership by EV type

There are four basic types of EVs:

  • All-electric (battery) vehicles (BEVs)
  • Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs)
  • Hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs)
  • Fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV)

Tesla dominates the BEV market in the U.S., with five of its models featured among America’s 10 best-selling BEVs in 2022. It was the only manufacturer with multiple models on that list.

But despite Tesla’s popularity, most American EV drivers nonetheless prefer hybrids. In 2022, HEVs and PHEVs significantly outnumbered BEVs in the U.S. by a nearly 3-to-1 ratio. Americans’ preference for hybrids may reflect their continuing concern about the scarcity of electric charging stations and the limited ability of all-electric cars to drive long distances without a recharge.

The FCEV market is relatively minor in the U.S., with only 2,707 sold in 2022, a sales decrease of 19% from the previous year for that EV subtype. This niche market is dominated by one car model, the Toyota Mirai, which made up more than 77% of total U.S. FCEV sales in 2022.

Electric vehicle market share

Sales of HEVs, PHEVs and BEVs have more than tripled since 2020, whereas sales of non-hybrid gasoline- or diesel-fueled vehicles have declined.

EVs accounted for about 4% of light-duty vehicle sales in 2020 and 12% of light-duty vehicle sales overall in 2022. That market share increased to about 18% by the third quarter of 2023. Light-duty vehicles, which are vehicles that weigh less than 10,000 pounds, make up the vast majority of America’s cars.

As EV sales gradually increased, manufacturers reduced the number of traditional internal combustion car models from 318 to 297 between 2021 and the second quarter of 2023. The number of EV models increased from 34 to 55 during that period.

Market research suggests that luxury vehicle buyers are more interested in EVs than non-luxury buyers, and luxury cars account for a significant portion of the rise in EV sales. In fact, battery-electric luxury cars made up 32% of the overall luxury automobile market in the second quarter of 2023. In response to this interest, manufacturers removed 17 luxury internal combustion engine car models and added 19 luxury EV models to the market between 2021 and 2023.

But while EVs are clearly popular among the wealthy, they’re not necessarily seen as viable cars by the majority of Americans.

Electric vehicle sentiment in the U.S.

Less than half of American adults (38%) surveyed in 2023 said they are seriously interested in buying an EV as their next vehicle. This number is on the decline, as 42% surveyed in 2022 indicated that they were seriously interested in buying an EV.

This finding by the Pew Research Center contrasts surprisingly with the fact that America’s top automakers are building and selling more EVs. This rise in sales is probably due to the Biden administration’s push to increase tax credits for EV purchases and lower vehicles’ emission limits. It’s also likely due to the incentives recently provided by California, where about 30% of EVs are registered.

There are several key reasons for Americans’ skepticism about EVs. Americans, unlike Europeans, drive long distances and have access to relatively inexpensive gasoline. And most Americans have little confidence that recharging stations will become numerous and convenient enough to make long commutes realistic in an EV. Only 17% of Americans are extremely or very confident this will happen, while a full 53% are not too or not at all confident. Those who are less confident in the creation of a robust charging network are less likely to buy EVs.

In addition to concerns about access to charging stations, many Americans are uncomfortable with the idea of phasing out standard gasoline-powered cars and trucks, and support for doing so dropped from 2021 to 2023. This is the case even among Democrats, who are, in general, more supportive of projects and products that are likely to reduce climate change.

The future of electric vehicle adoption

Americans’ concerns regarding the feasibility of driving EVs may partly explain the disparate projections for the U.S. EV market.

EVAadoption, a company that analyzes the EV market, predicts that BEV and PHEV sales will reach approximately 29.5% of all new cars sold by 2030. According to S&P Global Mobility, another company that provides automotive industry analysis, electric cars will make up 40% of car sales in the year 2030. Both of those percentages would be huge increases from current EV sales, but they’re far from the target set by President Biden in an August 2021 executive order, which called for a 50% EV market share of new vehicle sales by 2030.

The Biden administration’s lofty goal does seem realistic, however, when looking at projections by Global Market Insights. That research and consulting company believes the U.S. EV market will enjoy a compound annual growth rate of more than 15.5% between 2023 and 2032. That level of growth would see the U.S. EV market’s value increase from $49.1 billion in 2022 to $215.7 billion in 2032. Market growth is expected to occur as a result of:

  • Government initiatives that favor EVs over gas-powered vehicles
  • Increasing environmental awareness among American consumers
  • A fast-growing e-commerce industry
  • More efficient public transportation systems

Factors that may limit the growth of the EV industry include the high cost of investment in EVs and the fact that high-capacity batteries are environmentally unfriendly.

FAQ

How many electric vehicles are on the road today?

As of 2022, there were 2,442,300 fully electric vehicles on America’s roads. That number increased to 9,746,500 when including hybrid, plug-in hybrid and fuel cell electric vehicles as well.

What percentage of cars in the U.S. are electric?

About 3.4% of cars in the U.S. were electric in 2022. That percentage includes both all-electric vehicles and hybrids.

How many electric charging stations in the U.S. are there?

As of the first quarter of 2023, there were 161,562 public and private electric vehicle charging ports in the U.S., according to the Department of Energy.


References

  1. Today in Energy. “Electric vehicles and hybrids grow to a record-high 18% of U.S. light-duty vehicle sales.” U.S. Energy Information Administration. Evaluated Jan. 22, 2024. Link Here
  2. Richter F. “EV Infrastructure: South Korea Leads the Charge.” Statista. Evaluated Jan. 22, 2024. Link Here
  3. Spencer et al. “How Americans view electric vehicles.” Pew Research Center. Evaluated Jan. 22, 2024. Link Here
  4. Alternative Fuels Data Center. “TransAtlas.“ U.S. Department of Energy. Evaluated Jan. 22, 2024. Link Here
  5. Carlier M. “Electric vehicles in the United States – statistics & facts.” Statista. Evaluated Jan. 22, 2024. Link Here
  6. Alternative Fuels Data Center. “Maps and Data - Electric Vehicle Registrations by State.” U.S. Department of Energy. Evaluated Jan. 22, 2024. Link Here
  7. Kilgore G. “How Many Electric Cars Are There in the United States? We Found Out.” 8 Billion Trees. Evaluated Jan. 22, 2024. Link Here
  8. Ryan C. “2023 Tesla Model 3.” Kelley Blue Book. Evaluated Jan. 22, 2024. Link Here
  9. Alternative Fuels Data Center. “Electric Vehicles.” U.S. Department of Energy. Evaluated Jan. 22, 2024. Link Here
  10. Wadhwani P. “U.S. Electric Vehicle Market Size.” Global Market Insights. Evaluated Jan. 22, 2024. Link Here
  11. Kane M. “US: Hydrogen Fuel Cell Car Sales Decreased In 2022.” InsideEVs. Evaluated Jan. 22, 2024. Link Here
  12. EVAdoption. “EV Sales Forecasts.” EVAdoption. Evaluated Jan. 22, 2024. Link Here
  13. Kelley Blue Book. “Electric Vehicle Sales Report Q3 2023.” Cox Automotive. Evaluated Jan. 22, 2024. Link Here
  14. Colato J, Ice L. “Charging into the future: the transition to electric vehicles.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Evaluated Jan. 22, 2024. Link Here
  15. California Air Resources Board. “Clean Vehicle Rebate Program (CVRP).” California Air Resources Board. Evaluated Jan. 26, 2024. Link Here
  16. California Air Resources Board. “California Clean Fuel Reward surpasses 250,000 point-of-sale financial incentives for EV buyers.” California Air Resources Board. Evaluated Jan. 26, 2024. Link Here
  17. California Clean Fuel Reward. “Frequently Asked Questions.” California Clean Fuel Reward. Evaluated Jan. 26, 2024. Link Here
  18. Today in Energy. “Electric vehicles and hybrids make up 16% of U.S. light-duty vehicle sales.” U.S. Energy Information Administration. Evaluated Jan. 26, 2024. Link Here
  19. The White House. “FACT SHEET: President Biden Announces Steps to Drive American Leadership Forward on Clean Cars and Trucks.” The White House. Evaluated Jan. 26, 2024. Link Here
  20. Yap L. “Electric Cars Still More Expensive Than Average: Study.” GreenCars. Evaluated Jan. 26, 2024. Link Here
  21. U.S. Department of Energy. “FOTW #1299, July 17, 2023: The Number of Electric Vehicle Charging Ports in the U.S. Nearly Doubled in the Past Three Years.” U.S. Department of Energy. Jan. 26, 2024. Link Here

Figures

Back to ConsumerAffairs

Journal of Consumer Research