Do Gasoline Prices Correlate With Plug-in Vehicle Sales?

Introduction

“..it is fair to suggest that falling gas prices will reduce demand for fuel-efficient, hybrid and electric vehicles”
-Alec Gutierrez, Kelley Blue Book

“..gas prices”certainly” have an effect on electric-drive cars.“
-Jessica Caldwell, Edmunds.com

The idea has been repeated often enough; rising gasoline prices cause drivers to turn to alternative fuel vehicles for relief; falling gas prices must then lead to less drivers buying electric cars. Seems logical. But does the data back this up? Plug In America decided to investigate.

To answer this question, we considered the period between December 2010, when the Chevy Volt and Nissan LEAF kicked off sales of the current crop of electric vehicles, and November 2014, which is the most recent month for which we have complete data. We examined average monthly U.S. retail gasoline prices (“U.S. All Grades All Formulations Retail Gasoline Prices (Dollars Per Gallon)” 2014). And we looked at U.S. sales of plug-in electric vehicles (PEV). These are original equipment manufacturer (OEM) vehicles that come stock with a connector to charge up the traction battery from grid power. This includes battery-electric vehicles (BEV) and all plug-in hybrids (PHEV) and extended-range vehicles (EREV/REEV). The PEV category does not include conventional hybrid-electric vehicles (HEV) like the Toyota Prius, but it does include the newer Toyota Prius PHV (“Sales Dashboard”).

Conclusions

“Green cars: often hard to predict–and assuredly never dull.”
-John Voelcker, Green Car Reports

Data from the period between December 2010 and November 2014 shows zero correlation between gasoline prices and plug-in vehicle sales. The data does not support the idea that falling gasoline prices have a negative effect on sales of plug-in vehicles. Plug-in vehicle sales appear to be independent of gasoline prices.

Read more: Plug In America

Leave a Reply