US Electric Vehicle Sales Increased by 81% in 2018

U.S. electric vehicle sales may be finally seeing the hockey stick growth market watchers have been waiting for.

The 2018 numbers are in, and total U.S. EV sales came in at 361,307 for the year — up 81 percent over 2017 — according to the tracking website Inside EVs.

For Chris Nelder, manager of Rocky Mountain Institute’s mobility practice, the results came as a surprise.

“I did not expect the growth rate to be over 30 percent” for 2018, he said. “I expected it to be in the 20 percent range, which is where it’s been.”

“I did expect we’d have a sharp increase in the rate adoption sometime soon,” he added. “But I didn’t think it would be in 2018.”

Image from Greentech Media

Last year’s strong sales performance really came down to one thing: Tesla. The Silicon Valley automaker sold 139,782 units of the Model 3 in 2018, according to Inside EVs. Including the Model S and the Model X, Tesla was responsible for more than 50 percent of total plug-in vehicle sales last year.

The Toyota Prius Prime was the second-bestselling EV of 2018, with 27,595 units sold. GM’s Model 3 challenger, the Chevy Bolt, made the top 10 list but was well behind the market leader, with just 18,019 sales for the year.

Source: Inside EVs

U.S. EV sales to date have been underwhelming. While launching an entirely new class of vehicles is no easy feat, China has seen adoption levels surge, while European countries lead on a per-capita basis.

The U.S. EV sector has seen incremental growth over the past several years, but it has yet to reach an inflection point. And sales actually saw a dip in 2015.

Source: InsideEVs

In 2017, U.S. EV sales totaled 199,818 — up 26 percent over 2016. That number set a new record for the U.S. market, although plug-in sales barely surpassed 1 percent of total market share.

Historic EV sales growth in the U.S. has been steady, but it’s safe to say it hasn’t spiked. 2018 may prove to be the year that changed, but it will depend in large part on how well automakers other than Tesla perform.

Taking the Model 3 out of the mix, U.S. EV sales increased by only 11 percent last year, a poor showing by most standards.

But Nelder notes that many automakers were focused on introducing new EV models and retooling their production lines in 2018. While this didn’t translate to enormous sales, he believes these investments will start to pay off in the coming months.

“I think it’s going to be a whole different game,” he said. “I don’t think 2019 is going to be all about the Model 3. There are a lot more manufacturers making a lot more EVs.”

There are several new mass-market EVs available with over 200 miles of electric range, such as the Kia Soul and Kia Niro. At the same time, brands such as Mercedes, BMW, Porsche, Jaguar and Audi are launching headline-grabbing high-performance electric cars — and putting real pressure on Tesla for the first time.

“In 2019, we’re going to have much more significant participation from other major manufacturers, especially in the high-end luxury crossover/SUV segment,” said Nelder. “And it’s there that I think people are going to get excited about what’s happening. That’s not the consumer model stuff that we all need and want to see, but it is the sexy stuff. It is the stuff that generates headlines and gets people to go into showrooms and gets real money to flow.”


US Electric Vehicle Sales Increased by 81% in 2018, by Julia Pyper, Greentech Media, January 7, 2019.

Getting to 100% zero emissions in California: Beyond CAISO’s eight-solution menu

The path to 100% emissions-free energy by 2045 in California is not completely carved, and answers are still forthcoming.

Most of the state’s load serving entities (LSEs) required to meet the SB 100 mandate of 60% renewables by 2030 have met their 2017 interim requirement of 27%, according to the California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC) latest annual RPS report. California’s three dominant investor-owned utilities (IOUs) have reached 33% renewables and are on track for 50% by 2020.

But reaching the 2045 zero emissions goal — also part of SB 100 — will require a wide range of changes, including reducing reliance on natural gas in the power sector and on gasoline-fueled vehicles in the transportation sector.

California’s grid operator has not taken on the 100% emissions-free goal yet because the CPUC’s integrated resource planning (IRP) process “has not reviewed the implementation of SB 100,” California Independent System Operator (CAISO) spokesperson Anne Gonzales told Utility Dive. A “preferred system plan” is expected some time in the first quarter of 2019.

The CPUC’s IRP process has not addressed technical needs for 60% renewables, but has studied “amounts near 57%, which gets us close,” Gonzales said. CAISO has an eight-solution menu for meeting the “current and future renewable energy goals” that includes more distributed energy resources (DER) and demand response, time-of-use rates, transportation electrification and a regional grid.

For full story click here.

Getting to 100% zero emissions in California: Beyond CAISO’s eight-solution menu, by Herman K. Trabish, Utility Dive, January 3, 2019.


Electric Heat Pumps Can Slash Heating Emissions by More Than Half in California Homes

California aims to be carbon-neutral by 2045. Any path to get there will require decarbonizing the state’s buildings.

According to a new Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) study, published in the Electricity Journal, electric heat pumps should be part of any long-term building decarbonization strategy in California.

“If you purchase and install a new heat pump today, you can expect emission reductions over its life of between 50 and 70 percent compared to conventional gas alternatives,” Pierre Delforge, study co-author and senior scientist, climate and clean energy program, NRDC, told Greentech Media in an interview. The other co-author, Anna Brockway, is a graduate student in the Energy & Resources Group at the University of California, Berkeley.

Delforge said the study was prompted by conversations with policymakers who wanted to know how electric heat pumps’ greenhouse gas emissions profile changed at times of peak electricity demand, when the carbon intensity of the grid increases, as well as during periods when hot water demand is high and hybrid heat pump water heaters operate in less-efficient electric resistance backup modes.

In order to compile an emissions profile accounting for those factors, Delforge and Brockway compared hourly electricity usage data for heat pump water heaters and air-source heat pump space heaters to hourly emissions intensity data for electricity generation on the California grid prepared by the consultancy Energy and Environmental Economics, Inc. (E3) for the California Public Utilities Commission.

Delforge and Brockway subsequently found that a gas-to-electricity swap reduced emissions by 50 percent to 70 percent for heat pump water heaters and by 46 percent to 54 percent for air-source heat pumps, depending on the efficiency of the gas-fired equipment replaced.

“When you combine the high efficiency with clean electricity, we get very low emissions, and that is particularly important for space heating and water heating, which are two of our biggest energy users and emissions sources in buildings and homes in particular,” said Delforge.

Savings for homeowners

In addition to the carbon savings, recent studies have found that electric heat pumps can save homeowners money, especially when installed in new buildings.

study prepared for NRDC by the consultancy Synapse Energy Economics, Inc., published in October, found that California homeowners could save $1,500 upfront, and hundreds of dollars annually in reduced operating costs thereafter, with the installation of electric heat pumps instead of natural-gas furnaces in new construction.

A report released by the Rocky Mountain Institute in June found that homeowners could save money by opting for electric heat pumps in new construction as well as retrofits in which electricity supplants propane or heating oil, or when both a gas-fired furnace and air-conditioner need to be replaced at the same time.

“In many scenarios, notably for most new home construction, we find electrification of space and water heating and air conditioning reduces the homeowner’s costs over the lifetime of the appliances when compared with performing the same functions with fossil fuels,” the authors concluded.

Emissions reductions increase with a cleaner grid

Delforge noted that he and Brockway conducted their analysis before passage of SB 100, legislation signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown in September that increased California’s renewable electricity target to 60 percent by 2030 and mandated 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2045.

“If we redid the analysis with that bill now in law,” he added, “the reductions would actually be even higher than they are in our analysis.”

Even greater near-term emissions reductions could be had, Delforge said, if load management technologies are used to unlock the demand flexibility capabilities of electric heat pump water heaters and air-source heat pumps.

“Pre-heating in the early afternoon to raise the home temperature before 4 p.m., could substantially reduce the contribution of ASHPs [air-source heat pumps] to peak electricity usage,” Delforge and Brockway wrote in the Electricity Journal paper.

Afternoon pre-heating or pre-cooling would also enable air-source heat pumps to provide space conditioning when the California grid is saturated with zero-carbon solar electricity.

Delforge said the rollout of time-of-use rates by California’s investor-owned utilities beginning in 2020 will provide additional opportunities to leverage the demand flexibility of heat pumps equipped with smart controls.

“Electrification plus high efficiency plus demand flexibility: That’s the magic equation we think is going to be key to reach the level of emissions reductions we need in the building sector,” he said.


Electric Heat Pumps Can Slash Heating Emissions by More Than Half in California Homes, by Justin Gerdes, Greentech Media, December 3, 2018.