Hybrid and electric vehicles are becoming increasingly ubiquitous. Which states have the greenest drivers this year?
In recent years, improvements to hybrid and electric technology have ushered more and more eco-friendly cars onto the market. From Chevy to Toyota and Audi to Tesla, nearly every well-known car manufacturer has released either a hybrid-electric or a purely electric vehicle to meet a variety of preferences. In fact, in 2020, there seems to be an eco-friendly car to satisfy every driver’s taste and budget.
Many drive hybrid or electric vehicles for their green impact. While electric vehicles require no gas to run, many hybrid-electric vehicles are nearly twice as fuel-efficient as standard cars. Reduced fossil fuel consumption by hybrid-electric vehicles leads to a significant decrease in greenhouse gas emissions per mile driven. Given that every gallon of gasoline burned releases 19.60 pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, fuel efficiency significantly reduces carbon emissions caused by driving. Take, for example, a 15mpg difference in fuel efficiency. If the average American drives 13,176 miles per year, this difference saves nearly 200 gallons of gas, translating to nearly 4,000 fewer pounds of carbon dioxide emissions.
Others choose a more fuel-efficient vehicle to cut costs. While many hybrid and electric cars tend to cost more upfront, with every mile driven, more money is saved on fuel compared to a less efficient vehicle. Additionally, many states offer economic incentives to electric and zero-emission vehicle owners, from particular tax exemptions to rebates worth thousands of dollars.
Car ownership by vehicle type varies significantly from state to state. Curious to determine the states with the highest share of hybrid and electric vehicle ownership, the data scientists at Insurify, an auto insurance quotes comparison website, referred to their database.
- National averages. Across all states, 2.40 percent of drivers own a hybrid-electric or electric vehicle. The average price of regular gas in the United States is $2.19 per gallon, and the average American driver covers 36.1 road miles per day.
- Regional differences. While coastal states tend to dominate in their ownership of hybrid-electric and electric vehicles, there are also some differences in ownership among Census Bureau designated regions. The West is home to the highest proportion of hybrid and electric vehicle owners, while the Midwest is home to the lowest. Namely, hybrid and electric vehicle owners make up 2.00, 2.24, 2.94, and 4.50 percent of all drivers in the Midwest, South, Northeast, and West, respectively.
- Red state, blue state: Which has more green cars? In keeping with their residents’ reputation for progressive political views and lifestyle habits, blue states are home to about twice as many hybrid- or electric car owners as are red states. Namely, 4.25 percent of drivers in blue states own a hybrid or electric car, while only 2.14 percent of drivers in red states one of these fuel-efficient vehicles.
- Costlier gas, more hybrid and electric cars? Yes. State by state, gas prices are related to hybrid and electric vehicle ownership. States with high gas prices tend to have more hybrid and electric vehicles, while states with low gas prices tend to have fewer, r = 0.70. Keep in mind that this analysis establishes only correlation. Many factors contribute to the relationship between gas prices and fuel-efficient vehicle ownership, including state taxes and retail competition.
To determine the states with the highest share of electric and hybrid vehicles, the data science team at Insurify, a car insurance quotes comparison website, referred to their database of over 2 million car insurance applications. When applying to compare car insurance quotes, drivers enter information such as their vehicle make and model and the state that they call home. The number of hybrid and electric vehicles in each state was divided by the total number of cars to determine the proportion of hybrid and electric vehicles in each state. From this, the ten states with the highest rates of green car ownership were selected.
The most recent data (2018) on the number of miles driven in each state was procured from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. The latest gas price statistics were obtained on July 31, 2020, from AAA.
States with the Most Hybrid and Electric Vehicles
- Share of hybrid/electric vehicles: 2.99%
- Miles driven per day by licensed driver: 34.0
- Average regular gas price (July 2020): $2.38 per gallon
Rounding out the top ten states this year, Illinois has a higher-than-average proportion of hybrid and electric vehicle owners. Insurify ranked the Prairie State tenth in the nation for hybrid and electric vehicles last year as well. Illinois is also the only state on this list located in the midwest; the rest of the states in this ranking are located on both coasts. It may be surprising to learn that some recent legislation in Illinois is not all that supportive of electric vehicles on its roads. Specifically, starting January 1, 2020, the state increased annual registration fees for all EV owners by $100 to make up for lost tax revenue from gas sales (the gas tax in Illinois is one of the highest in the country). Whereas owners of gas-guzzling cars pay only $148 in annual registration fees, EV owners must now pay $248.
9. New Jersey
- Share of hybrid/electric vehicles: 3.00%
- Miles driven per day by licensed driver: 42.3
- Average regular gas price (July 2020): $2.19 per gallon
The first East Coast state to make the list (and certainly not the last), New Jersey is home to the ninth-highest proportion of hybrid and electric vehicle owners in the country. New Jersey’s gas prices are a cent lower than the national average, and also are lower than those of many other states on this list. Therefore, gas prices may not be the sole motivation for driving greener vehicles in the Garden State. Rather, New Jersey has incentives in place to increase both electric vehicle sales and use, including exempting zero-emissions vehicles from state sales and use tax as well as a plug-in electric vehicle rebate program.
- Share of hybrid/electric vehicles: 3.16%
- Miles driven per day by licensed driver: 30.7
- Average regular gas price (July 2020): $2.66 per gallon
Oregon has the eighth-highest proportion of hybrid and electric vehicle owners in the country, an increase from last year when the state ranked ninth in the nation. Gas prices are pretty steep in Oregon — as of July, regular gasoline is priced at $2.66 per gallon, cheaper than only 3 other states. Ucontributes to the appeal of fuel-efficient vehicles, but it’s not the only factor. In fact, Oregon’s state legislature is quite electric vehicle-friendly, and, like other states on this list, offers drivers a rebate on their purchase or lease of a plug-in electric vehicle of up to $2,500, or up to $5,000 for low- or moderate-income households.
7. New Hampshire
- Share of hybrid/electric vehicles: 3.19%
- Miles driven per day by licensed driver: 34.0
- Average regular gas price (July 2020): $2.12 per gallon
New Hampshire has among the highest ownership of hybrid and electric vehicles in the country. With middling gas prices in the Granite State (only 7 cents below the national average, as of July 2020), New Hampshire drivers are motivated to own a fuel-efficient vehicle by their own eco-conscious convictions — and by the New Hampshire Electric Co-op’s incentive programs. Specifically, the New Hampshire Electric Co-op (NHEC) offers drivers rebates of up to $1,000 for the purchase or lease of an electric vehicle, $300 for the installation of a residential electric vehicle charging station, and up to $2,500 for businesses who install a commercial electric vehicle charging station.
- Share of hybrid/electric vehicles: 3.27%
- Miles driven per day by licensed driver: 42.0
- Average regular gas price (July 2020): $2.28 per gallon
Maryland, for the second year in a row, has the sixth-highest proportion of hybrid and electric car owners in the nation. While the scarcity of electric charging stations may be a significant deterrent to drivers in other states, Maryland has leveraged incentive programs designed to increase the number of electric charging stations in the state. Specifically, the state offers a rebate of 40% for the cost of electric vehicle charging stations — up to $700 for individuals; $4,000 for businesses; and $5,000 for retail service stations. Individuals are also offered an excise tax credit of up to $3,000 for an electric vehicle or plug-in hybrid, yet another incentive for drivers to purchase an electric vehicle in the Free State.
5. New York
- Share of hybrid/electric vehicles: 3.35%
- Miles driven per day by licensed driver: 30.5
- Average regular gas price (July 2020): $2.27 per gallon
Rounding out the top 5, New York has moved up in the rankings since last year. In fact, the Empire state ranked in 7th place last year with a rate of 3.08 percent of drivers owning a hybrid or electric vehicle — clearly, the urge to go green has only grown stronger. While this percentage change may seem minimal, keep in mind that New York is home to over 11 million drivers. With gas prices only a few cents higher than the national average, those with a monetary incentive to purchase an electric vehicle may rely instead on the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority’s rebates program, for up to $2,000 for the purchase or lease of a new eligible plug-in electric vehicle.
- Share of hybrid/electric vehicles: 4.27%
- Miles driven per day by licensed driver: 27.9
- Average regular gas price (July 2020): $3.24 per gallon
With hybrid and electric car ownership at 4.27 percent, Hawaii has the fourth-highest share of eco-friendly vehicles in the nation. As of July this year, Hawaii’s gas prices are the highest in the nation. Historically, they’ve been comparatively steep, which may be a motivating factor in fuel-efficient vehicle purchases in the state. The Aloha State also aims to meet a zero-emissions economy by 2045. Part of the state’s strategy involves reducing fossil fuel consumption with economic incentives to electric vehicle owners, including metered parking fee exemptions and rebates for the installation of electric vehicle charging systems.
- Share of hybrid/electric vehicles: 4.38%
- Miles driven per day by licensed driver: 31.2
- Average regular gas price (July 2020): $2.14 per gallon
Massachusetts has the third-highest proportion of hybrid and electric vehicle owners in the country. Despite the fact that the Bay State’s gas prices are actually below-average and state-sponsored economic incentives for electric vehicle ownership are much less generous than those of many other states on this list, drivers in this state nevertheless tend to gravitate toward hybrid and electric vehicles. Perhaps it’s a testament to their dedication to a more sustainable lifestyle; Massachusetts has long been considered one of the most progressive states in the country.
- Share of hybrid/electric vehicles: 4.69%
- Miles driven per day by licensed driver: 40.4
- Average regular gas price (July 2020): $2.81 per gallon
Washington ranks second in the nation for the highest proportion of hybrid and electric vehicles this year, up from third place last year. With 4.69 percent of all Washington drivers owning a hybrid or electric vehicle, this state’s rate is more than twice as high as the national average. Owning a hybrid or electric vehicle in Washington saves owners a considerable sum on fuel, as gas prices in Washington are the third-highest in the country.
- Share of hybrid/electric vehicles: 6.53%
- Miles driven per day by licensed driver: 35.8
- Average regular gas price (July 2020): $3.17 per gallon
California is the state with the highest proportion of hybrid and electric vehicles in the nation. This is likely due in part to the fact that drivers in this state consistently purchase the most environmentally-conscious automobiles compared to any other state each year. Although Californians drive near-average distances (35.8 miles per day, compared to the national average of 36.1), they pay more per mile in gas prices, which are the second-highest in the nation. High fuel prices aren’t the only incentive to purchase a fuel-efficient vehicle in California; in order to lower carbon emissions and improve air quality, the Golden State offers considerable economic incentives to drivers who purchase or lease plug-in hybrid and zero-emission vehicles, including rebates of up to $4,500 for some kinds of green cars.
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