Plug-In Car Sales Growing on Both Sides of the Atlantic

©. Tesla Model 3

As the backlash to Donald Trump's decision to exit the Paris Accord builds, it will be interesting to see whether public outrage contributes to different consumer choices. One of the simplest ways to send a message to the oil industry, for example, is to stop using so much oil. And while we environmentalists continue to advocate for driving less, even folks who are not yet ready to give up car dependence have now have a viable option for cutting back on gas.

And that's buying an electric or plug-in car.

Sales so far have been small, but there are promising signs that they are beginning to pick up speed. We already reported that electric car sales just grew 91% in California, and now I am seeing AutoBlog Green report that nationwide, May sales of electric and plug-in hybrid cars are up 45% compared to the year before. Meanwhile, in the UK, Business Green reports that electric and hybrid sales are up 33% in May, while diesel sales are down by about 20%.

It's worth noting, of course, that focusing on percentage increases obscures the fact that we are still talking about a very small number of cars. Even with the 20% decrease, 81,500 new diesel cars were registered in the UK in May, compared to just 3,000 electric cars. But it doesn't take long for a 30% growth rate—coupled with a 20% decline rate for competitors—to significantly transform the make up of a market.

And given the fact that we'll be seeing a whole new selection of vehicles with higher range, lower price, and/or a broader diversity of vehicle types entering the market in the coming year, and given the fact that cost parity is just around the corner, I continue to expect that a plug-in vehicle sales are close to a tipping point for mainstream adoption.