The number of electric vehicles registered in Triad counties increased by nearly 300 in the first quarter of 2022.
Guilford led the way in the region with a gain of 130 electric vehicles recorded in January, February and March, followed by Forsyth with 59, according to an analysis of data from the North Carolina Department of Transportation.
Emission-free electric vehicles accounted for 4.7% of new registrations in 10 counties in the Triad region. That was slightly behind the 5.5% statewide share.
Guilford’s 11% jump in electric vehicle registrations for the quarter doubled the North Carolina average, while Forsyth’s 4.5% increase fell slightly below the nationwide figure. ‘State.
A total of 2,600 all-electric vehicles have been registered in the Triad, with Guilford leading with 1,154 and Forsyth reaching 656 at the end of March. However, on a per capita basis, Forsyth’s 588 electric vehicles per capita kept the county well ahead of Guilford’s 470.
Alamance (36), Davidson (24), and Randolph (15) are the other counties in the region to double new EV registrations for the quarter. Davie and Rockingham counties saw a net gain of eight electric vehicles, followed by Surry with five, Yadkin with three and Stokes with two.
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Triad and statewide drivers continue to prefer a partial shift to hybrid vehicles over a full commitment to electric vehicles. Hybrids grew three times faster than electric vehicles in the Triad in the first quarter. Nearly 13% of the growth in all registrations during this period is attributable to hybrids.
But while hybrids remain more popular than electric vehicles, their overall market share in the auto market remains low, noted Rick Sapienza, director of the Clean Transportation Program at NC State University’s Clean Energy Technology Center.
“Hybrids have been available since 1997 and haven’t really taken off,” he explained. “That says a lot about the market acceptance and/or marketing and education of this option.”
Hybrids also remain more affordable than electric vehicles, but they probably don’t offer enough advantages over traditional vehicles for most potential buyers, Sapienza added.
The electric range of a pure hybrid is 15 to 25 miles, while a plug-in hybrid can go 30 to 60 miles without the gas engine, he explained.
Regular hybrids send power from the engine to the battery when the car coasts or breaks down, while plug-in hybrids use an external charger.
“I agree that (a hybrid) is a viable safety net or option for those who still have anxiety,” Sapienza said. “It also takes into account the biggest challenge that most EV drivers face, which is long journeys.”
Research has shown that members of a typical American household take three to five trips of at least 300 miles per year. For most EV owners, that would mean charging on the road, away from home – a prospect that worries some drivers who fear being stranded with no place to plug in.
Sapienza noted that he had positive experiences driving a hybrid Chrysler Pacifica, including going 75 miles on electric and 260 miles on gas on a round trip between Raleigh and Charlotte.
Those 75 battery miles saved him at least three gallons of gas during the trip, which at today’s prices would have cut the cost of the trip by about $13.
However, this also meant that the vehicle emitted greenhouse gases for more than three quarters of the journey.
“Hybrids have their place and make sense,” Sapienza said. “But the consumer has really not embraced them.”
However, drivers who buy hybrids are generally more satisfied with them than owners of traditional vehicles, according to Consumer Reports.
In the Triad, hybrids and electric vehicles combined accounted for 16.5% of the increase in all vehicle registrations in the first quarter, according to NCDOT data.
John Deem covers climate change and the environment in the Triad and Northwestern North Carolina. Her work is supported by a grant from the 1Earth Fund and the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation.
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