Sustainability Infrastructure

The best and worst states for supporting electric vehicles

Story at a glance

  • Researchers at the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy quantified states’ policies to reduce emissions from vehicles.
  • California led the country, while Southern states trailed.

Which states are leading the way in terms of adopting electric vehicles (EVs) to curb greenhouse gas emissions? 

In a new report, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) gave a grade to each U.S. state, highlighting the ones that have worked to adopt policies that facilitate the use of EVs and reduce their carbon footprint.

Unsurprisingly, California garnered the highest score, with ACEEE awarding it 91 out of 100 possible points. 

New York, Washington, D.C., Maryland, Massachusetts, Washington state, Vermont, Colorado, Oregon and New Jersey followed suit, with scores ranging from 63.5 to 44 points. 

To calculate these scores researchers added numerical value to EV-supportive infrastructure plans, such as charging stations, tax credits and rebates, and allocating federal funding to switch public transit to electric power.

California’s high score was driven by the state’s commitment to implement deadlines for transitioning to electric buses and commercial vehicles, as well as its initiative to subsidize lower-income drivers with electric vehicles in lieu of older cars.

“Transitioning to electric vehicles is vital for the climate and for reducing costs for households and businesses,” said Bryan Howard, state policy director at ACEEE and lead report author. “The leading states are embracing this transition, but many more are just starting, even as the automakers are preparing a burst of new electric models.”

Most of the high scoring states hovered around both coasts that house major metropolitan areas. 

Outside of the West and East Coasts, Minnesota was the highest scoring Midwest state, earning 39.5 points, while Virginia led Southeastern states with 36 points. Both states have signaled a commitment to decarbonize vehicles, mainly through plans to add more EV chargers in public spaces.

Some of the states that show room for improvement in terms of making EVs more accessible for residents include Texas, Georgia, Missouri, Michigan, and New Mexico.

Transportation is still the leading source of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., per the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). With more automakers entering the electric vehicle market, shifting commuters to carbon-friendly vehicles is one of the most tenable ways to reduce the country’s overall emissions.

Despite availability increasing, EVs still account for only 2 percent of the U.S. vehicle market, ACEEE reports.

The report highlights how states can make EVs less complicated purchases, such as installing more public charging facilities, and provide outreach support alongside private sector efforts. States will also need to address the racial socioeconomic discrepancies that make it challenging for communities of color to afford and maintain an EV.

“States can work with communities to design policies ensuring that investments center environmental justice and equity and promote broader access to EVs,” the report notes. “Such policies would address historical inequities in transportation access, environmental impacts, and economic mobility and avoid future burdens on low-income communities and communities of color.”

Researchers note that the EV market and transportation electrification are still burgeoning industries, and its intersection at the policy level will continue to evolve. On a state level, however, leaders can still invest in accessible EV infrastructure.