Union of Concerned Scientists Point Out “3 Strong Trends” in Electric Vehicle Market


With Spring now upon us, the Union of Concerned Scientist says it’s “the time of year where we start to see the first signs of growth.”

Yes, the trees begin to stir back to life, the grass turns greener and the bulbs begin to spring up out of the ground, but that’s not what the Union is referring to.

Instead, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) says that:

“As the first quarter of 2014 comes to a close, we are seeing some encouraging signs that both electric sales, and their benefits, will continue to grow this year.”

According to UCS, there are “3 strong trends” in the electric vehicle market.  Those trends are as follows:

1) Fuel cell vehicles are coming!

Toyota and Hyundai will be rolling out their new fuel cell vehicles within a year. Hyundai’s hydrogen-powered SUV will be leased in Southern California starting this spring and Toyota will follow with a sporty sedan in early 2015 in “significant numbers,” according to the manufacturer.

2) EV sales doubled in 2013 and more plug-in models are on the horizon

Sales of electric vehicles (EVs), including both plug-in hybrids and battery electrics, continue to rise. More than 90,000 EVs were sold in the United States in 2013 — more than double 2012 EV sales. In California, sales of EVs also increased more than 100 percent in 2013 compared to the previous year, and the state was home to nearly half (46 percent) of all new plug-in vehicles in the U.S. In 2013, plug-in cars were 2.5 percent of new vehicle sales in California.

3) The benefits of electric vehicles are growing

Electric vehicles are reducing oil consumption and global warming emissions while saving consumers millions of dollars at the pump. Americans have purchased almost 170,000 plug-in vehicles in the last three years. These vehicles are avoiding the burning of 45 million gallons of gasoline per year and saving Americans over $100 million per year in avoided fuel costs.

UCS notes that if the trends seen this Spring continue, then electric vehicles will continue to become more prevalent in the years ahead.  (We’d also like to make a small quibble on point number 2 – sales did not double in the US, but pretty close at just more than an 80% improvement)

Source:  Union of Concerned Scientists

Categories: General


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47 Comments on "Union of Concerned Scientists Point Out “3 Strong Trends” in Electric Vehicle Market"

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“California . . . was home to nearly half (46 percent) of all new plug-in vehicles in the U.S. In 2013, plug-in cars were 2.5 percent of new vehicle sales in California.”

Damn. We buy plug-ins at the rate that the rest of the country buys hybrids.

Granted we have some decent incentives (HOV lane and subsidy) but I wonder why our rate is so high? Mild weather may help. But our higher than the national average gasoline price is probably a big factor. That makes me wonder if gasoline prices go up another 10 or 20 percent, will the rest of the nation start adopting plug-ins faster?

You need to look at market % not just #’s… (not saying CA isn’t ahead of the curve.. but not as much as you may think)

I am talking percent! Nation-wide hybrids are still only around 3% but California is up to 2.5% on plug-ins. I think the nationwide rate for plug-ins is probably around 0.8%. So California is probably around 3X the nation’s average.

Why? Several reasons I suspect:
-The state subsidy (around $2500 for pure electrics and $1500 for PHEVs)
-HOV lane access.
-A better variety of choices due to compliance cars sold here (Fit EV, Toyota RAV4, Fiat 500e, Spark EV, etc.)
-Moderate climate.
-High gas prices.

Sorry, missed the quotes, thought that was your statement about 1/2 of all plugins are sold in CA. I actually chart the percentage of plugins in the US. Go to the “Market Share” tab of http://www.kdawg.com

I think of California as a precursor state. In other words a trend setter. They are just ahead of the curve. At the other end is a state like Mississippi, living half in the 19th century.

Come on down and visit sometime. I’ve had a Prius since 2003. I routinely see Leafs, Volts, Prii, and Insights in Jackson. Considering our small population and large rural area (not to mention a state budget that’s smaller than California’s deficit), it’s not too surprising that we’re not the leader of trends. But we’re hardly stuck in the 19th century. Roads are paved, and people wear shoes when they have to. We even have internet access. 😉

I’m glad you have such a good sense of humor in the face of such an ignorant stab. I probably wouldn’t have (but then again, I’m a hot blooded New Yorker 😉 )

This type of arrogance is one thing that’s always turned me off to California (and yes, I lived in Palo Alto for two years, I’ve met a few Californians).

Bah! As a WA state resident, that sounds like something a New Yorker would say.


Virginia we are in the year 1860 and pushing back to the dark ages.

I kind of view Virginia as the reality that EV’s face in that EV’s basically pay the same sticker price as a regular gas car. They also have their limited ranges handicapping in a lot of Virginia’s suburbs and rural areas.

The only real plug cars that can work in Virginia right now are the Tesla and the Chevy Volt. The Nissan Leafs mainly stay in City and inner suburbs as of now.

They see FCV has an up and coming trend, REALLY?

Even though all the hydrogen will come from stripping it out of natural gas? And most likely dumping the other portions of the gas into the atmosphere?

Dosen’t sound “concerned” to me. More like stupid.

My thoughts exactly. It seems like they are trying to push FCV on the tailcoats of BEV success… bah why are we considering a fuel that has a worse carbon footprint than gasoline, still requires processing and fueling infrastructure, and is highly flammable!

If 1/10 of the energy poured into FCVs went into battery and EV development over the last 3 decades we would be much further ahead!

I’m not for killing off any lines of research, but the FCV late push is smelling to high heaven of agenda. As in “lets see if we can save big oil”. The people pushing this in the press, if they acknowledge that hydrogen needs be obtained from natural gas at all, talk in wispy terms of how we are going to obtain it from natural sources “someday”, ie., the same nonsense we got sold with ethanol, “switchgrass”, biofuels, etc.

It’s a good thing electricity doesn’t come from natural gas, coal, and nuclear.

Actually, it would be good if it came from nuclear. Completely underutilized technology.

Future generations will look at the troubles caused by expensive electricity generation and wonder why we hamstrung ourselves by making nuclear power more expensive than it has to be and less safe, by using the wrong technologies when better ones were available & not building more plants with a single, modern, design.

Future generations will look at the piles of radioactive waste we’ve left them and curse us.

But they’ll also thank us for developing cheap, clean renewable electricity technology.

It’s a good thing electricity can be generated in so many ways.

It’s an even better thing that several of those ways are very clean, and much cleaner than burning fossil fuels.

An if electricity generation is so bad, then power your electronics with methanol and light your dwelling with oil lamps.

She also conveniently forgets about hydro, geothermal, wind and solar. At every single anti-grid post…

Oh, that’s right. She thinks magical unicorns will fart clean hydrogen, without any ecological impact from stripping it out of fossil fuels. 😉

Hey Cheryl, ever heard of marginal analysis?

Guess where all the NEW generation this year to power all these NEW EVs came from?
1150MW added in 2014, 1060MW of it was renewable.

Try harder, troll.

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

Well, if you could get 16+ kWh out of the H2 in a gallon of gas, without combustion particulates and NOx, that would justify fuel cells as long as they were on the order of 10 cents per Watt.

What’s the amount of electricity you can get out of a fuel cell delivering a gallon of gas’ H2 after local reformulation?

UCS is about science, not policy. They also think CO2 can be solved without nuclear power.

Bring on FCVs! Perhaps they’ll have a technology break-through. But even if they completely flop, they’ll show how EVs and PHEVs are much better in comparison.

I welcome their challenge.

Yeh well the UCS hates Nuclear power which makes me not like them. OK bring on the negs

Now they list FCV as a big plus to our future.


I agree with you. You’re not alone.

The drive against Nuclear is just about FEAR.
The human race is programmed to not like it.
The facts don’t matter.

The facts matter alot and show much to be afraid of.

Unless, of course, nuclear path is the one called
Liquid fluoride thorium reactor

It doesn’t even have to be thorium. Check out the DMSR, which is molten salt with uranium instead:

Fewer regulatory hurdles, no U-233 startup load, 1/6th the fuel of LWR and as little as 1/10,000th the transuranic waste, higher density, and a simple single-fluid design.

I agree as well. I think nuclear is misunderstood by people. Another thing people forget is that nuclear takes up very little space compared to renewables like wind and solar. I found this not too long ago.


Just compares the land use of nuclear compared to wind and solar.

Compare land use after the plant blows up.

FC sounds stupid because of need to build too expensive a fueling infrastructure.

If progress in battery energy density goes at least half way of what we are promised, or at least doubles, FC is dead as well as ICE.

The biggest thing facing Nuclear is that it’s getting nibbled to death along with coal by hundreds of thousands of small solar panel projects being mounted on people’s roofs. In order to make the costs of a new nuclear planet work out you have to find away to have a stable base demand or growing demand for at least 30 years. But the fast rising growth of solar panels is making any muti billion dollar power plant investment a very bad idea right now.

Coal isn’t even close to being nibbled to death by solar, and hence there’s a lot of generation for nuclear to replace.

Rooftop solar is viable for one reason and one reason only: net metering (and a bad pricing system in general). It takes away 10-30c/kWh from a grid operator’s revenue, but only saves them 5c/kWh in electricity purchases. Grid costs only get worse with distributed solar.

That can’t last. It also doesn’t work for commercial/industrial electricity use, because they don’t have the same silly pricing scheme. So your argument is confined to the 37% of electricity consumed by the residential sector.

Nuclear’s biggest problem right now is the economics of it. The plants are EXTREMELY expensive and take like a decade to build. It is just not very cost effective and that is even after giving it a massive subsidy in the form of the Price-Anderson act and government-backed low interest loans.

It is environmentalists that are stopping nuclear, it is Wall Street.

They’re expensive because environmentalists stalled progress for 35 years. But the future is bright with molten salt reactors on the horizon.

Are you seriously suggesting that we transmit solar electricity from one side of the planet to the other?!? And that we rely on that connection going through god knows which countries for something as fundamental to our way of life as electricity?

Did the “Union of Concerned Scientists” just publish data without reference to sources? Lacking in UCS version of the graph is that the totals includes HEVs, PHEVs & BEVs for US.

The graph looks like a poor quality version of
Electric Drive Transportion Association created with daa from HybridCars.com

Another plot on total monthly sales looks like its based on data from InsideEVs.com “Monthly Scorecard”.

The odd thing missing from trends is a graph detailing FCV sales by month. re: “1) Fuel cell vehicles are coming!” … at issue, is availability and timing beyond California prior to 2018.

UCS missed:
“0) $25,000 BEVs with 200-250 mile range are coming”,
“4) over 95% of US population will be reachable by driving a Model S from nearest Supercharger, before 2015”

A linear increase in sales will turn into a quadratic increase in cumulative sales. Most people will call a quadratic graph “exponential”. I’m distrustful of anyone posting cumulative sales.

But it gets better, since increase in sales is exponential!

Don’t you mean $35-40k BEV’s with 200-250 miles of range? Not that your point isn’t still valid. FCV’s are still much, much more expensive and there still is that pesky fuel with a bad energy equation.

I had calculated, for 2013, 44% of all Plug_ins sold in CA. I got 46% for BEV’s sold in CA in 2013. After I did my calcs, CNCDA.org (California New Car Dealer Assoc.) took the CA plug-in sales data report off-line except for members. So now it is not possible to cite the CA data.

…as of today I now see the California sales data is back on-line at CNCDA.org see California Auto Outlook report dated Feb. 2014

Fuel cell vehicles have been ‘trending’ for decades. I still can’t buy one.

FCVs are to transportation as fusion is to electricity generation.

I beautiful theory slain by an ugly set of facts; the technology that’s been 20 years away for the last 50 years (adj. numbers for FCVs, but the principle holds).

The biggest thing with fusion is I could see using it for star ship travel or space travel in general.

But the cost fusion is facing now is why should someone invest 20 billion dollars in it when they can buy even more solar panels and batteries for half the cost and collect the power for free.

In that I plan on owning a set of solar panels on the roof of my house in the future but I don’t plan on owning my own fusion reactor.

the name of this union would be a great title for a film, with sean connery as a member.

What this really shows is that I think the ethanol industry is going to be devastated by the rising numbers of electric cars before the oil industry is.

As for when the destruction is going to run wild on the power, oil and ethanol and hydrogen industries. It’s going to gain power when Tesla’s giant Giga Factory opens up in that it will basically be opening up the spillways for cheap batteries for EV’s and Solar power.

So if you own a coal plant and the day this factory opens I would dump it.

Fusion power. We place a big fusion reactor out in space and then use collectors here on the planet to gather the energy.

Yep. That is what I am doing today. I have a massive fusion reactor safely situated 93 million miles away and use my local collectors to gather energy from it. The only problem is that the earth’s rotation limits my access to it but on the other side, everyone across the planet can access it so we share it. 🙂