Insights

The 10 States with the Highest Percentage of Hybrid or Electric Vehicles

Alternative fuel vehicles were once considered a toy for the rich, but today they’ve become more commonplace, with over half a million hybrid and electric vehicles sold in 2017.

Though electric cars provide full freedom from the gas pump, hybrid electric vehicles (HEV) are by far the most popular type of alternative fuel vehicle. These vehicles use either their electric motor, internal combustion engine, or both, depending on the circumstances—and during the times when the internal combustion engine powers the vehicle, it simultaneously charges the batteries that power  the electric motor. As a result, drivers get the convenience of being able to fuel up as they would with a regular vehicle while still significantly improving gas mileage.

With fluctuating gas prices and Tesla’s headline-grabbing CEO in the news, Insurify’s data scientists decided to examine hybrid and electric vehicle ownership by state. Interestingly, all but three of the 10 states with the highest percentage of hybrid and electric vehicles had gas prices above the $2.94 national average as of this writing. Below are the top 10 states for hybrid and electric vehicle ownership.

Methodology

Insurify provides car insurance quotes based on customers’ answers to questions about driving history, vehicle type, and other personal data. The rankings in this article are based on a set of 1.3 million automobile insurance shopper applications that indicate whether any of the insured vehicles had a hybrid or electric engine. Statistics on average gas prices for regular gasoline come from AAA and were obtained on 6/7/18. Per-capita energy-related carbon dioxide emissions refer to the average amount of carbon dioxide, in million metric tons (MMT), produced per person in each state by the transportation sector, and are based on a 2018 US Energy Information Administration report.


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10. New York

Vehicles that are hybrid or electric: 2.65%
Average gas price: $3.08 per gallon
Transportation CO2 emissions (per capita): 3.60 MMT

At 2.65%, New York comes in tenth on the list of states with the highest percentage of hybrid and electric vehicles. The state’s Drive Clean Rebate program, launched in 2017, grants residents a rebate of up to $2,000 for purchasing or leasing an electric vehicle. According to Governor Cuomo, more than 5,750 rebates had been claimed by March 2018. New Yorkers with energy-efficient vehicles are also eligible for the Clean Pass program, which allows them to use the Long Island Expressway HOV lanes whether or not they have passengers.


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9. Illinois

Vehicles that are hybrid or electric: 2.73%
Average gas price: $3.07 per gallon
Transportation CO2 emissions (per capita): 5.52 MMT

Illinois once had one of the nation’s most generous electric vehicle rebate programs, offering up to $4,000 for purchase of a plug-in electric car. Unfortunately, this rebate program was cancelled in 2015. The state’s electric vehicle owners do still receive some small perks; they’re exempt from emissions inspections (aka smog checks) and can receive a registration fee reduction.


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8. District of Columbia

Vehicles that are hybrid or electric: 2.97%
Average gas price: $3.05 per gallon
Transportation CO2 emissions (per capita): 1.66 MMT

Washington, D.C. boasts the lowest per-capita CO2 emissions of any location on this list. The district grants an excise tax exemption to D.C. residents who purchase a new or used hybrid vehicle getting at least 40 mpg during city driving. Hybrid drivers are also eligible for a reduced registration fee, but only if they bought their vehicle new.


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7. New Jersey

Vehicles that are hybrid or electric: 3.11%
Average gas price: $2.98 per gallon
Transportation CO2 emissions (per capita): 6.49 MMT

New Jersey residents who purchase a zero-emission vehicle can get a sales and use tax exemption from the state (use tax refers to sales taxes on items purchased in another state). The state also pays grants to employers who purchase and install electric vehicle charging stations. And like New York, New Jersey allows drivers of hybrid vehicles to use HOV lanes on the New Jersey Turnpike any time.


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6. Washington State

Vehicles that are hybrid or electric: 3.33%
Average gas price: $3.46 per gallon
Transportation CO2 emissions (per capita): 6.01 MMT

Until recently, Washington State offered a sales-tax exemption for electric vehicle purchases, but this tax break was scheduled to expire in 2019 or after 7,500 vehicles were registered for the exemption – and the state hit that 7,500 limit at the end of May 2018. Still, given that the average price of gasoline in Washington is among the highest in the country, owning a hybrid or electric vehicle in the state offers savings at the pump.


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5. Maryland

Vehicles that are hybrid or electric: 3.37%
Average gas price: $2.94 per gallon
Transportation CO2 emissions (per capita): 4.74 MMT

Maryland drivers with an electric vehicle may qualify for a tax break, though calculating it can get tricky. The state grants an excise tax credit based on the battery capacity of the electric vehicle; buying or leasing such a vehicle yields a credit of $100 per kWh of battery capacity, up to a maximum of $3,000. This tax break is scheduled to expire at the end of June 2020. Drivers of both electric and qualifying hybrid vehicles can also get a permit allowing them to use HOV lanes without limitations.


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4. New Hampshire

Vehicles that are hybrid or electric: 3.98%
Average gas price: $2.90 per gallon
Transportation CO2 emissions (per capita): 5.05 MMT

While many states offer incentives to hybrid and electric vehicle owners, New Hampshire is considering a law to charge such drivers extra. If the bill passes the state senate and is signed into law by the governor, drivers of electric vehicles will pay an additional $111 annual fee and drivers of hybrids will be charged a fee based on their EPA estimated mileage – the more efficient the vehicle, the higher the fee. The idea is to compensate for the fact that such drivers pay less in gasoline taxes, resulting in a shortage of highway repair funds for the state.


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3. Massachusetts

Vehicles that are hybrid or electric: 4.17%
Average gas price: $2.96 per gallon
Transportation CO2 emissions (per capita): 4.38 MMT

Massachusetts offers an electric vehicle incentive program called MOR-EV that will pay qualified purchasers and leasers up to $2,500. As of this writing, 8,048 of these electric vehicle rebates have been claimed for a grand total of $16,050,000. The state provides grants for municipalities and public universities that purchase electric vehicles and charging stations, as well as incentives to employers who install charging stations for employee use.


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2. Hawaii

Vehicles that are hybrid or electric: 4.31%
Average gas price: $3.71
Transportation CO2 emissions (per capita): 7.07 MMT

Hawaii drivers of electric vehicles get the convenience of being able to use HOV lanes at all times. They’re also exempt from daily parking fees and parking meter charges. However, they may soon be subject to an extra annual registration fee to compensate for not paying gasoline taxes. The proposed law would slap on an extra annual fee of $70 for electric vehicles and $35 for hybrid vehicles in Hawaii.


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1. California

Vehicles that are hybrid or electric: 5.37%
Average gas price: $3.73 per gallon
Transportation CO2 emissions (per capita): 5.28 MMT

California tops the list of states with the highest percentage of hybrid and electric vehicles at over 5%. The state also has the highest gasoline prices of any state on this list and a substantial rebate program, making ownership of one of these vehicles more cost-effective. The California Vehicle Rebate Program (CVRP) will pay up to $7,000 for qualified purchasers or leasers of electric and hybrid electric vehicles. However, there’s an income cap to consider: households with annual income above $150,000 for single tax filers, $204,000 for head of household filers, or $300,000 for joint filers don’t qualify unless purchasing a fuel cell electric vehicle.

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Insurify's team of data scientists and content specialists present Insurify Insights, a series of automotive and demographic studies focusing on driver behavior, regional superlatives, and national rankings. Through expert analysis of over 1.5 million car insurance shopper applications, the Insurify Insights team produces new data-driven articles every week.