Environment

As California Sales Surge, Is DRIVE EV Program Boosting Electric Vehicle Purchases in RI?

California leads the EV revolution, with 1 in 4 new cars being electric. Meanwhile, Rhode Island, despite its slow start, shows promising signs of catching up. Dive into the contrasting tales of these two states and discover the broader implications for America’s green future.

August 7, 2023, 1:43 pm

By Uprise RI Staff

In the race to a greener future, two states, California and Rhode Island, offer contrasting narratives in the EV adoption story, shedding light on the broader implications for the U.S.

California’s Electrifying Transformation
California, known for its progressive environmental policies, has once again set the benchmark for other states. According to a recent article on the Union of Concerned Scientists’ blog, a staggering 1 in 4 new cars sold in the Golden State during the second quarter of 2023 were plug-in electric vehicles. This significant shift is not just a testament to the state’s commitment to a sustainable future but also an indication of changing consumer preferences.

Tesla, the electric car manufacturing giant, has played a pivotal role in this transformation. For the first time, Tesla emerged as the overall top-selling brand in California, surpassing traditional automotive giants like Toyota. The Tesla Model Y, in particular, has been a crowd favorite, doubling the sales of its gasoline counterparts.

Rhode Island’s Slow Start and Potential Revival
On the other side of the spectrum lies our state. In 2022, the state reported that a mere 0.19% of its registered vehicles were electric. This statistic is particularly surprising given that Rhode Island boasts one of the highest numbers of charging ports per EV in the country, with 39.7 ports for every 100 electric vehicles.

However, Rhode Island is experiencing a noticeable uptick in EV sales . Recognizing the need to boost EV adoption, the state introduced the DRIVE EV Rebate Program in 2022. Administered by the Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources, the program offers enticing rebates to residents, small businesses, non-profits, and public sector entities. Residents can get up to $2,000 in rebates for new battery and fuel cell electric vehicles, with additional incentives based on income eligibility. The program also extends benefits to small businesses and public sector entities, offering up to $2,500 for qualified vehicles.

A total of 44 vehicles applied for the DRIVE EV program in July, 2023 vs. 23 in July, 2022. In the year long measurement period, 306 vehicles qualifying for the rebate were made by Tesla, with Chevrolet in 2nd place with 107 vehicles qualifying. The top 3 cities with the most EV owners applying for the rebate were Providence (75), Cranston (68), and S. Kingstown (48).

Broader Implications for the U.S.
The contrasting narratives of California and Rhode Island underscore the multifaceted challenges and opportunities in the EV adoption journey. While infrastructure, in the form of charging ports, is crucial, it is not the sole determinant of EV adoption rates. State policies, incentives, public awareness campaigns, and vehicle pricing play equally significant roles.

As the U.S. grapples with the urgent need to reduce carbon emissions during this climate emergency, the success stories of states like California provide a blueprint for others to follow. At the same time, Rhode Island’s proactive measures signal a positive trend for the future. With continued efforts and strategic interventions, the dream of a greener, sustainable future with EVs at the forefront seems well within reach.