Home Departments

Market Dynamics

Tens of thousands of PEVs are already on the roads in California, and over 100,000 throughout the U.S.  Effective strategic planning and policymaking depend on an understanding of what is yet to come.  The Luskin Center is tracking past PEV sales and expected supply to analyze trends (e.g., in the proportion of plug-in hybrid EVs vs. all- battery EVs).  It is also undertaking a major primary research assessment of PEV demand and expected use through a conjoint survey of a representative sample of California new-car buyers. Additional work explores infrastructure market dynamnics.



California Legislative Briefing: Plug-in Electric Vehicles (19 March 2014): presentation-pdf

Author: Brett Williams

Presentation given 19 March 2014 in Sacramento, California at the Union of Concerned Scientists' Legislative Briefing on "Electric Vehicles in California." It characterizes current and planned plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs): their prices, incentives, electric performance, market penetration, and potential impact.


PEVs: The First Three Years (U.S. Plug-in Electric Vehicle Sales Trends & Analysis, Dec 2010 – Nov 2013): presentation-pdf, analysis-blog

Author: Brett Williams

This resource compiles and analyses the latest U.S. PEV sales data to answer pertinent questions:

* What types of electric vehicles are on the market? What is the difference between a plug-in and and EV? (typology, Venn diagrams, and acronym soup)

* Where are we with PEVs? (cumulative sales by PEV type and model)

* How is the rate changing over time? (monthly sales by PEV type and model)

* How do PEVs compare to gasoline-only hybrids? (sales by year after introduction)

* What does the market look like? (market share and sales-weighted average characteristics)


California Plug-in Electric Vehicle (PEV) Registration Trends & Analysis, Dec 2010 – Dec 2012: presentation-pdf, analysis-blog

Author: Brett Williams

This resource compiles and analyses California PEV registration data to answer pertinent questions:

* How many California PEVs are there, and what were the best-selling PEVs? (cumulative registrations by PEV type and model)

* What does the California market look like?  What portion of the U.S. PEV market does California represent, and how does California differ from the U.S. as a whole? (market share)


"EV Market Failure? Let the Facts Speak for Themselves" EV World interview with Brett Williams about PEV sales (3/11/13)

Cover story here.  Audio here.


Early Plug-in Electric Vehicle Sales: Trends, Forecasts, and Determinants (full report)

Authors: Brett Williams, JR DeShazo, and Ayala Ben-Yehuda

Plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) will be sold by all major automakers in California in the 2010–2014 timeframe. Plug-in electric vehicles include plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and all-battery electric vehicles (BEVs). Policymakers would like to know how many and what type of PEVs will be sold in Southern California over the coming decade so that PEV readiness efforts by local governments can be synchronized with regional market growth. One concern is whether consumer demand for PEVs will be constrained by automaker supply of these vehicles. The basis for this concern has been the slow and delayed arrivals of PEV models to market, as well as the perception that announcements of vehicle production targets are frequently over-optimistic.

While predicting with confidence how many and what type of PEVs automakers will produce is problematic, in this report we examine PEV supply by presenting and evaluating a wide range of evidence. Section 2 of this report characterizes recent PEV market sales in the U.S. by model and product type. It shows cumulative U.S. sales as of June 2012 at over 36,000 vehicles for 12 PEV models. The Volt, Leaf, and Prius Plug-in are currently leading in market volume, and plug-in hybrids are emerging as the dominant product type. With respect to trends in the rate of sales, Section 2 also compares PEV sales to historical sales of gasoline hybrids. Sales of certain PEV models have been compared unfavorably to those of early hybrids, but a closer look at the adoption of individual models reveals a more nuanced picture. Based on some metrics of comparison, individual PEV model adoption rates do tend to lag the early adoption rates of the most successful gasoline hybrid models. Taken as an overall product class, however, PEV adoption over the last three years has been outpacing early hybrid introduction. 

Section 3 of the report evaluates expectations about PEV supply from two perspectives: i) announcements about national vehicle releases and sales goals, and ii) low-cost compliance with California’s Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) regulations. Section 3.1 shows that announced release dates and sales expectations tend to be overly optimistic. Nonetheless, the number of PEV models sold will likely more than double by late 2013. 

Expected ZEV compliance estimates described in Section 3.2 of the report suggest PEV sales in California could exceed 50,000 per year by 2019 and 150,000 in ten years (by 2022). Cumulatively, PEVs would exceed 100,000 by 2019, 300,000 by 2021, and approach 500,000 by 2022 if automakers meet current ZEV requirements. 

Section 4 of the report examines U.S. and California forecasts published by academics, consultants, and market researchers. Few of them explicitly focus on potential supply constraint scenarios by auto manufacturers. Most forecasts have been based on macroeconomic factors (such as gasoline prices) as well as the persistence of existing policy incentives at the state and federal level. Some forecasts are based on models developed by researchers that predict the diffusion of innovative technologies using certain market and demographic assumptions (including historic sales of hybrid vehicles). Other estimates are based on software simulations that compute variables such as vehicle price, fuel price and availability, consumer preferences, and a variety of subsidy and policy scenarios. Still other forecasts are prepared according to industry disclosures and surveys, market research, literature reviews and emissions compliance targets. Projections indicate the California PEV population could approach 100,000 by 2014–2015, 300,000 by 2015–2019, and 500,000 by 2018–2020. 

Section 5 of the report synthesizes the evidence reviewed to date, focusing on sales factors in the context of California. PEV models are expected to proliferate rapidly between 2010 and 2014. While some models appear to be low-volume, development and/or regulation-compliance platforms, others appear targeted at widespread consumer acceptance. As with all new car models, we should expect that some of these new models will sell poorly and eventually be discontinued. However, some models will “take off,” and a very few may even become PEV “classics.”

Fundamentally, we expect that PEV sales volumes will be determined largely by a few factors. Foremost among these is the price of the vehicle, which should fall as battery costs continue to decline. A second and related factor is the persistence of federal and state policy incentives, which in California can provide up to a $10,000 reduction in the effective price of a PEV, without counting local incentives (see Appendix A). These incentives provide critical momentum to PEV sales. Until PEV prices fall significantly, continued provision of these policy incentives may be a greater source of uncertainty for PEV sales than other constraints on PEV production. A third critical factor is currently the very low consumer awareness of the value proposition embodied in the adoption and use of PEVs. The “message” explaining the value of PEVs and addressing widespread misconceptions associated with them is simply not being adequately conveyed on a scale that will lead to rapid increases in demand for this technology. A fourth factor that will influence PEV sales is the availability of charging infrastructure. This demand driver is examined in depth in Deliverable 2.

Consumer uptake remains the critical uncertainty. However, less doubt remains about the automotive industry’s fundamental ability to supply a number of vehicles equal to or greater than what is necessary for ZEV program compliance, should sufficient demand exist. Based on current vehicle pricing, production, and sales trends, consumer demand is unlikely to critically outstrip available supply for most PEV models in the California market. 


Realizing the Potential of the Los Angeles Electric Vehicle Market (full report) (executive summary) (presentation)  

Authors: Jeffrey Dubin, Ross Barney, Annamaria Csontos, Jonathan Um, and Nini Wu

This joint project with the UCLA Anderson School of Management identified the locations of early PEV adopters, adoption rates, and barriers to market expansion. The conjoint market study, relying on direct survey data from over 2,000 respondents, revealed that PEVs would comprise 9% of total car sales in 2015 and 11.7% in 2020, and that incentives will have little effect as long as supply constraints persist. One of the key constraints identified was access to home-based charging units for renters and residents of multi-unit dwellings.

Los Angeles will be a U.S. leader in electric vehicle adoption, according to a study published by the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation and conducted by the UCLA Anderson School of Management, as part of a year-long research collaboration with Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s Office for Environment and Sustainability, and with the support of City Council and Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

“This research is cutting edge, and will be critical to informing Los Angeles’ electric vehicle strategy going forward,” said Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. “Los Angeles has demonstrated itself repeatedly as a leader in this industry, and through this collaboration with UCLA, we have further strengthened LA’s commitment to become the EV Capital of the World.”

"Given the price of gas, the instability in oil producing regions and Los Angeles' air quality, electric vehicles are clearly a wise investment for policymakers," Los Angeles City Council President Eric Garcetti said. "Making Los Angeles a leader in electric vehicles is not only a way to clean our air but to position ourselves at the forefront of an industry that will create high-quality manufacturing, research and technology jobs."

“Based on our study, we expect that rising gasoline prices will naturally shift the demand from conventional combustion cars to electric vehicles,” adds study co-author Jeffrey Dubin, UCLA Anderson School of Management adjunct professor of economics and statistics.

“For many buyers, electric vehicles will be hard to ignore,” said Luskin Center director and associate professor of public policy, J.R. DeShazo. “However, the analysis predicts just over 2,000 electric vehicles will be sold in Los Angeles in 2011. This number is due to the limited supply of electric vehicles; even if more residents are inclined to purchase them, it just isn’t possible right now.”

The research team predicts that the supply of electric vehicles will be limited until 2013 or 2014. In 2015, the team predicts that electric vehicles will comprise 9% of new vehicles purchased by Los Angeles residents. The team used data from hybrid registrations, election results, a market survey of 2000 Los Angeles residents supported by polling firm Polimetrix/YouGov, U.S. Census Bureau, and other sources to construct a ZIP code-level adoption model.  The analysis for 127 ZIP codes allowed the team to identify which areas would see the greatest number of electric vehicles at night (the Westside) and during the day (the Wilshire Corridor).

The study also identifies opportunities for the City of Los Angeles to support the electric vehicle market with policies and education. One area where the City can have a significant impact is by helping renters and residents of multifamily housing—who comprise about 70% of L.A. residents—access charging areas. Many of these residents do not own their garage, and face difficulties in installing electric vehicle charging equipment at home. Those who park on the street have even greater difficulty accessing charging at home. Over the coming year, the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation will research options to increase home charging access for these individuals.

UCLA Anderson MBA students Ross Barney, Annamaria Csontos, Jonathan Um, and Nini Wu conducted the year-long study under the direction of Professor Jeffrey Dubin. The research team worked with the City of Los Angeles and the Clinton Climate Initiative to conduct the study.

The UCLA Luskin Center and UCLA Anderson School of Management thank Polimetrix/YouGov for their generous market research support. The high quality of analysis made possible by Polimetrix/YouGov's direct consumer survey helped support and strengthen the research team's market projections.


Electric Vehicle Service Provider Networks and Market Distortions (full report)

Authors: Juan Matute and David Peterson

The authors discuss the potential for market distortions in the market for plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) charg- ing infrastructure. While existing market conditions give no indication that anti-competitive market distortions will emerge, the authors explore a worst-case future scenario where the emergence of regionally dominant firms pave the way for market distortions such as anti-competitive pricing, high switching costs, and access barriers. The authors first analyzed market developments in two regulated, more mature industries: automated teller machine (ATM) networks and mobile telephones. Anti-competitive pricing could take the form of high foreign fees for non-member transactions on electric vehicle service provider (EVSP) networks, or monopoly pricing to members. High EVSP network switching costs for PEV charging infrastructure owners and mem- bers could reinforce the regionally dominant firm’s position. Access barriers, primarily a lack of information about PEV charging infrastructure, could lead to suboptimal PEV infrastructure utilization, harming site hosts, owners, and consumers. Inter-network transactions, a potential competitive response by non-dominant EVSP networks, gives rise to a new set of considerations. The authors conclude with contract and policy recommen- dations for local governments, site hosts, and PEV charging infrastructure owners to mitigate the risk of future market distortions.

Keywords: electric vehicles, charging infrastructure, markets, policy 



The Luskin Center has partnerships with a broad group of stakeholders to ensure its work is relevant and valuable. Some of its partners include the following:

Academic Partners

UC Davis Plug-in Hybrid & Electric Vehicle Research Center

UC Berkeley Transportation Sustainability Research Center

UCLA WINMEC Electric Vehicle Integration Project

UCLA Smart Grid Energy Research Center (SMERC)

UCLA Institute of the Environment & Sustainability

RAND Corporation


Stakeholder Partners

South Coast Air Quality Management District

Southern California Association of Governments

California Plug-in Electric Vehicle Collaborative

Los Angeles Department of Water & Power

Los Angeles Department of Building & Safety

Los Angeles Mayor's Office

San Diego Gas & Electric

Westside Cities Councile of Governments 

Clinton Climate Initiative



  • R.L. Polk hybrid and plug-in electric vehicle registration data for California
  • Employment and business data for LA county
  • City of Los Angeles consumer research for PEV preferences and responsiveness to incentives (Polimetrix and Yougov.com)
  • Database of web-based resources for PEV charging stations
  • Database and GIS model of recharging infrastructure
  • Los Angeles County land use data by parcel
  • Rooftop and parking lot solar energy potential for Los Angeles County. 
  • PEV Primer for Local Governments