Electric Vehicle Penetration in New York

Electric vehicles penetration and electrification has been a subject much debate and discussion recently. Like many other States, New York has been grappling with setting policy regarding electric vehicles.  Three key drivers for planning and policy decisions are the rate of adoption, the speed of turnover in vehicle stock, and whether adopters are concentrated in specific areas.

We have been working with a utility in New York to automate monitoring of electric vehicle adoption, develop customer specific adoption propensity scores, and estimate the impact of electric vehicles on the hourly loads (8760) of individual circuits, substations, and sub-transmission areas. In this blog, however, we discuss the vehicle adoption in New York as a whole using public available data sources.

New York is at the forefront of the open data movement. They publicly post vehicle registration data for each of 11.7 million vehicles in New York, including VIN numbers, zip codes, dates of registration and host of other factors (https://data.ny.gov/Transportation/Vehicle-Snowmobile-and-Boat-Registrations/w4pv-hbkt/data). Once we remove from the dataset boats, motorcycles, ATV’s, and 2018 models (since the data for that year is partial), we have roughly 9.4 million vehicles in New York. We supplemented  the New York vehicle registration with detailed information about the make, model, trim, engine type (gas/hybrid, etc.), model year and other characteristics that can be extracted from VIN numbers. This underlying data provides rich insights into electric vehicle adoption.

What Do We Know About Electric Vehicle and Green Car Penetration So Far?

The figure below shows green vehicle adoption by model year, as the percentage of the total registered vehicles in each model year.  The year by year penetration of electric vehicles and plug-in electric vehicles has been growing quickly, but remain small as share of total vehicles. The penetration of hybrids in New York appears to have already peaked between 2% and 3% of all vehicles. A key question is whether electric vehicles will drive up the overall share of green cars or if we will see a shift from hybrids to PHEV’s and all-electric vehicles. It is also instructive to understand the mix of vehicles, which is shown in second figure below. While hybrids were dominated by Toyota, the EV and PHEV market is far more open, with a wider mix of car manufacturers.

Of the 9.4 million cars in New York roughly a million are new each year. As vehicles age, the count of vehicles goes down, either because they are retired or resold outside of New York. The pattern below is critical for understanding how vehicle stock will change over time. For electric vehicle penetration to matter, the new car market share of electric vehicles must grow. Second, the penetration of electric vehicles won’t be instantaneous simply because only a relatively small share of individuals purchase and drive new vehicles.

Is Electric Vehicle and Green Car Penetration Deeper in Specific Locations?

Below, we show heats maps. The first compares the electric vehicle penetration by zip code. The second heat map compares the current penetration of green cars by zip code.

New York EV Penetration Interactive Map (Click here)

NY Green Vehicle Penetration Interactive Map (Click here)

The below chart compares the penetration for electric vehicles to the penetration of green cars. The size of the bubbles indicates the total number of vehicles registered in each zip code. Not surprisingly, adoption of electric vehicles is closely related to adoption of green cars in general. Basically, we can expect higher penetration of electric cars in areas that have a higher penetration of hybrids.

What Conclusions Can We Draw?

The analysis here is not about prognosticating the future of electric vehicles. There may be truly disruptive policies and technologies in the future. But what we know so far is the following:

  • Electric vehicle penetration as a percentage of all vehicles is small but growing.
  • Green vehicles in New York seems to be limited to between 2 to 3% of each model year.
  • Some locations have higher electric vehicle adoption rates.
  • Electric vehicles adoption is higher where hybrid and PHEV adoption was high.
  • The data to closely monitor and understand electric vehicle penetration is available, at least in New York.


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