Hawaii Now Home to More Than 1,400 Plug-In Vehicles


Hawaii Certainly Isn't Big...But It's Big Into Plug-Ins

Hawaii Certainly Isn’t Big…But It’s Big Into Plug-Ins

State-by-state sales statistics are, as expected, difficult to obtain.

Plug-Ins Keep Areas Like This Closer to Pristine

Plug-Ins Keep Areas Like This Closer to Pristine

Usually one must contact a state agency to obtain these figures.  Even then, most states lag way behind.

For example, we can say that Connecticut had 98 plug-in vehicles registered as of September 2012 and that, at some point in 2013, that figure exceeded 300.  But pinpointing it to a precise number and point in time escapes us.

That’s not the case in Hawaii though and the source of the information is unusual.

Hawaii’s Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism gives us a figure on plug-in vehicle sales and we have to say we’re rather shocked by the amount of electric vehicles there.

As of the end of May 2013, there were 1,437 plug-ins registered in the state, including 1,093 on Oahu, 210 on Maui and 90 on the Big Island.

That’s a significant amount of plug-ins when you consider that Hawaii is home to only 1.39 million residents, which is a bit more than Rhode Island (1.05 million), but some 28 times less than California.

If you go based solely on population, then California would need to have around 42,000 plug-ins registered to match Hawaii, which it does (and then some), but few if any other states can match Hawaii’s plug-in-vehicle-per-resident ratio.

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30 Comments on "Hawaii Now Home to More Than 1,400 Plug-In Vehicles"

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It would be great to see by state numbers even for end of 2012!

Good to hear, although I expect even better from Hawaii. For any island except the Big Island, affordable BEVs can get you from end to end on a single charge. And gas prices there are higher than the mainland. With the right marketing, infrastructure and reduced off-peak electricity prices for charging, Hawaii can be the first major location in the world and surely the first state to be overrun by the EV revolution.

Can any local Hawaiian chime in about what’s needed to make this happen?

Electricity rates are 3 to 4 times the rate on the mainland, which makes EVs less financial sense there than on the mainland. Since most of the electricity comes from burning oil, I am not sure how economical off peak rates will be. Rooftop solar w/ EV makes more sense in HI than anywhere.

P.S. Not from Hawaii but asked plenty of EV related questions when I was on vacation there.

Thanks Josh. Rooftop solar and more EVs is definitely the way out of this catch-22. Oahu can probably get a good chunk of its electricity if it paves a substantial proportion of available roof space with PV panels.

Unfortunately, the highest electricity demand on Oahu is between 6 and 9 pm when solar panels can’t provide much electricity. So until effective large-scale electricity storage is perfected, depending on solar panels for a large percentage of electricity generation just isn’t possible.

Also, with each island’s electrical grid isolated from all other electrical grids, it is apparently challenging to keep an isolated grid stable with a substantial percentage of electricity generated by unpredictable sources like wind and solar.

So even though Hawaii has abundant renewable electricity resources, utilizing them is apparently challenging.

See below a comment from MauiLeaf: EV batteries can actually be part of the solution for that!

The Oahu electricity company has a pilot electricity rate for EV charging, but it offers only a 6¢/kWh discount during off-peak hours over the standard residential rate that is over 30¢/kWh, depending on the fuel cost surcharge that varies monthly. This pilot rate expires on 1 October with no guarantee of its renewal.

So driving my 62 mpg Honda Insight would be less expensive than driving my i-MiEV, even with the EV charging rate. But no car is as efficient as my Insight, so compared with most cars, driving an EV is no more and even a little less expensive before considering the much lower EV routine maintenance costs.

Most Hawaii EV owners who have installed solar panels don’t have excess capacity, so they still have to pay the full price for the electricity that they use for EV charging.

From 2007: http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2007/Jun/25/ln/FP706250359.html
“Hawaii vehicles nearly match state population”

That means the percentage of EV’s in Hawaii is approx. 1,437 / 1.39 million = 0.1%
Not very much, but plug-ins have not been available very long and cars can live 20+ years.

Compare that to the percentage of new PHEV sales in the US. It’s about double that at 0.2%. I bet Hawaii is much higher than this.

We can also look at the overall percentage of PHEV’s in the US.
110,616 / 254.4 million= 0.043% (aka very small)

oops.. make that 0.2% = 0.52%

I’m from Oahu, and have commented before on the amount of EV’s and charging capabilities on this island. The saving grace out here is having a charging infrastructure that is really great. The state first put in 240 v chargers at all the malls and state buildings as well as other places. The best part was installing three 480 v quick chargers and one private 480v charger all within 15 miles of each other. In that the island is only 40-50 miles long, there is always a place to charge. There are very many renters here who need this type of access to charging. Although the electric rate here is about 37 cents a kilowatt hr, the off peak is about 22 cents, so for people charging at home it is a good thing. The other thing here that solar is huge and should be because it is sunny most every day. The companies can’t keep up with demand. All in all, it is a very EV friendly place to live.

Thanks DonH, you paint a more encouraging – yet strongly fact-based – picture than others who chimed in.

The state and Honolulu city and county installed public charging stations in some of their parking garages, but some cost $2/hr for charging which is about twice the cost of electricity for those EV’s with 3.3 kW chargers. Better Place installed most of the public charging stations in some, but certainly not all shopping malls. These charging stations were sold to OpConnect which doesn’t seem to be doing much to maintain them. There is only 1 public charging station in Hawaii Kai which has 3 sizable shopping malls, so there are far too few public charging stations relative to the number of EV’s. Today, I drove to the city and county offices, but the 1 public charging station was in use. I then drove to a large mall to buy groceries, but its 2 public charging stations were in use. I have been able to use one of these charging stations during only about 10% of my visits because they are so popular. I am almost always able to find an available public charging station at the largest mall on Oahu. There are 6 total, but since OpConnect took over 4 of them, 2 of them have been out of… Read more »
I’ve done a huge spreadsheet (if anyone wants to see) and I hate to break it to you guys, but driving on gas is cheaper than electrons in most of Hawaii. DonH on Oahu makes the best case, as the island is small, Oahu’s rates are the lowest in the state, and public chargers are prevalent. I just bought a 2013 Volt, and the only way it “works” (save money) is for us to have a solar PV system on our house, and pay closer to $.30 cents per Kwh, on a power purchase agreement. Basically, if my Volt gets 40 mpg or higher, the cost per mile on premium gas is LESS than the cost to charge and pay Hawaii Electric Light Co.. UNLESS, I can get >45 miles on a charge, in which case, electricity is CHEAPER by one penny per mile. So, to summarize, for MOST people EV’s are not cheaper to operate, and in most cases are more expensive. Add their high sticker price, and limited range, and things get gloomy. Fortunately the Volt is a hybrid, so we can make it across and back without worry, and most of the time we can run on… Read more »

you can email your spreadsheet to me at CodyOzz @ kdawg.com

seriously your email is codyozz@kdawg.com ?

…ill take this one because kdawg might not be omnipresent here like myself

/he is serious, he wants to see it, the email will work

Sidenote: I wouldn’t mind having a looksee myself if you want to pass it along to insideevs@gmail.com as well, (=

Hey everybody!
I’ve seen you (kdawg) on the forum for years so I knew you were legit. Just didn’t know you owned that domain. So I was just wanting confirmation, I did the invite anyway after waiting.
Scott, I’m aware of the whole scottismegacoolandhasasweetvolt@kdawg.com would work, it was the domain I was not sure of. But I can understand why you jumped on to help. I’ve seen you for years as well. You guys are awesome.
Jay on the other hand…. Lol. Nah. You’re ok too. Now Jay, that spreadsheet is kind of embarrassing… I just threw crap at the board and tried to hash it out. As was explained before, I’m just presenting a complex mess for a rather simple equation. So, I wanted ya, it’s silly.

Aside: if you own your own domain then you can have anything not specifically defined as go to a catchall email account. So if you owned ozz.com then you could use amazon@ozz.com for your amazon purchases, or insideevs@ozz.com for your post here, etc, etc.

Thanks, I got the invite for it. Was busy all day today, will check it out tomorrow.

Hawaii would be interesting place for new power project developers. Many options shaould be investigated. Due to remotness of ireland location modular nuclear would be interesting consideration. Solar PV never been real major option especialy when power price is important issue. Hawaii needs real dispachable power sources.


Would be good to know primery information on Hawaii power generation and grid:
-location, fuel, capacity, anual output of power plants, soil characteristics including depth of bedrock;
-fuel prices, features of geothermal sourcess;
-grid features – grid scheme including line capacity and voltages, interconections between irelands and their
capacities, isolated grid consumtions;
– availability of third party acces arrangment.
That would preliminary set of information in order start finding out what would be best power setup IMHO for Hawaii. Interesting task.

Best individual solutions should be negotiated with retailer.

At its tropical latitude, solar potential in Hawaii should be rather cost-effective, not to mention its lower CO2-footprint. This together with some well-placed wind farms should definitely help.

CodyOzz, Thanks for sharing. I am surprised by your bottom line though. At 30 cents per KWh, you should be saving way more than a penny a mile with an EV like the Leaf or smaller ones. Say you charge a 2013 Leaf from 0 to 80%: that’s 20 KWh or $6. This is enough for your Leaf to drive some 70-80 miles in Oahu, assuming your average speed is 40-50 MPH overall in city and out (how fast *can* you get in such a small island?). The same $6 gets you less than 1.5 gallons of gas. So the Leaf will be at least as cheap to operate as the very best the Prius can do. On the average, probably cheaper. Now compare to a 20-30 MPG gas car, and you can start to see why so many Hawaiians are buying Leafs. Even charging at 40-45 cents/KWh the Leaf would still be cheaper to drive than most gas cars. As to the carbon impact: the Leaf and for sure the smaller EVs do around 110-120 MPGe according to the EPA. They are simply way more energy efficient. So even if it’s oil burnt one way or the other –… Read more »

Hey Assaf,
The part your confusing, is that the electric rate for my island is $.42/kWh for Helco supplied power. The $.31 cents (estimated based on pv production from our roof) is what we purchased to help cover the cost of our Volt. We LEASED a system, and that’s about our rate, based on our set monthly payment.
The whole jist of my first comment was that compared to Helco, gas is quite comparable on my island.
$.42/kwh * 20kw = $8.40 to charge the Leaf, and it’ll go about 70 miles on that charge. A car getting 36 mpg could beat that, given gas is $4.20/gallon.

Good grief, why is Hawaii burning oil to make the majority of their electricity?

They have waves, wind, and sun in abundance.

Wind isn’t reliable. The sun doesn’t shine during the peak consumption hours. Wave generation hasn’t been perfected on a large scale. Hawaii’s electricity grids are isolated, so they can’t access electricity from other sources when wind, sun, and waves aren’t providing enough electricity. Imported oil seems to be the most reasonable alternative at the present, as disgusting as this must seem.

Battery storage…. Why not?

Because its cheaper than the alternatives. It’s not that hard to figure out.

Chiming in from Maui: We do also have an EV charging rate, though it is not the best (I don’t bother with it). Our gas prices are higher than Oahu. Even using grid power without solar or EV charging rate I save about $450 month on gas for my 2, 000 miles a month. Maui has a ton of solar and so much excess wind energy that our utility threw away 62, 000 megawatts of it last year. The Japan-US Smart Grid Project is doing a large study on Maui to evaluate EVs as distributed energy storage for renewable energy. Since our peak demand is from 5-9 p.m. vehicle to grid and vehicle to home systems are very promising. Our utility just got a public smackdown from our Public Utilities commission for charging us $0.30+ for dirty oil power (with excess firm power) while throwing away cleaner, cheaper wind power that they get for $0.11. Big hopes that our over 200 EVs can “firm-up” our renewables and make EVs even more practical. Check out JumpSmartMaui and Maui EVA to learn more.

Wow, so Maui’s EVs might essentially function as a distributed “power plant”? That will be awesome.

Do you see it happening, or are the politicians and utility officials there too inept to make it happen?

Anyway, thanks for clarifying the Hawaii picture even more.