Electric Vehicles

How Are We Doing?

Electric vehicle (EVs) received a thumbs up because more than 10,000 new battery electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles were newly registered in 2018, representing 30% of all electric vehicles in San Diego County. The electric vehicle rebates through the California Clean Vehicle Rebate Project (CVRP) also continues to increase through 2019, bringing the total number of rebated vehicles to 97 per 10,000 residents. Want to know more about what we're measuring?

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Improved more than 1 percent from 2018 to 2019

Data Sources: California Department of Finance, Population Estimates, 2019; Center for Sustainable Energy, California Air Resources Board Clean Vehicle Rebate Project, Rebate Statistics, 2020

The California Clean Vehicle Rebate Project (CVRP) offers rebates for battery electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, and fuel cell electric vehicles. The rate of electric vehicle rebates per 10,000 through CVRP was 18.2 in 2019, slightly above the California statewide average, 6% lower than that in 2018, but still higher than years prior to 2018. The rebate rate in San Diego County saw its highest in 2018, at 19.4 rebates per 10,000 capita.  Based on a survey by the Center for Sustainable Energy, about 80% of the CVRP participants replaced older and more pollutant vehicles with their rebated electric vehicles. More than half of the replaced vehicles were at least 5 years older than the rebated vehicle, with 25% being at least 12 years older than the rebated vehicle. 

Apart from federal tax credits, fuel cell electric vehicles may receive up to $5,000 in rebates through the CVRP, and battery and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles may receive up to $2,500.

Electric vehicles to include both plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and battery electric vehicles (BEVs). Data Source: California Department of Motor Vehicles, 2019

California saw a huge increase in clean electric vehicles in 2018 compared with previous years. In San Diego County, 30% of total electric vehicles were newly registered in 2018, similar to the California average. This is partially due to the release of the Tesla Model 3 in late 2017, the most affordable all-electric vehicle manufactured by the company. The Tesla Model 3 was California’s top selling electric vehicle in 2018, with over 50,000 new retail registrations, more than double the second best-selling clean vehicle, the Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid.

Electric vehicle market share refers to the number of new electric vehicle sales out of all vehicle sales, which is an indicator of electric vehicle market trend, and can be compared across states or internationally. San Diego County’s electric vehicle market share in 2018 was 12%, slightly higher than the California statewide average but lower than other Southern California counties such as Los Angeles and Orange County. California leads electric vehicle sales in the U.S. In 2018, and zero emission vehicles accounted for nearly 50% of the sales nationwide

However, Norway is the international leader in new EV sales and the EV proportion in the passenger vehicle fleet.

Why Are Electric Vehicles Important?

High quality of life means the region boasts a thriving economy, a healthy environment, and is an equitable place for all San Diegans to grow and prosper.

  • Environment: Clean air is a significant part of a clean environment. Clean air can be compromised by pollutants from road transportation. Transportation is also San Diego’s and California's largest source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The more zero-emissions vehicles are on the roads, the better it is for clean air and the climate. While the state has a goal of 5 million zero-emission vehicles by 2030, an increase in hybrid vehicles and other alternative fuel vehicles also indicate cleaner air and decreased use of fossil fuels. Most recently, California Governor Newsom passed Executive Order N-79-20 which sets a goal that 100 percent of in-state sales of new
 passenger cars and trucks will be zero-emission by 2035 and medium- and heavy-duty trucks by 2045.
  • Economy: As demand for electric vehicles keeps growing, California has increased electric vehicle manufacturing jobs within the state. California is home to Tesla and other electric vehicle manufacturers, such as Proterra and BYD. In 2018, electric vehicles were the eight most valuable exports in California, worth almost $3 billion in revenue.
  • Equity: California laws help make electric vehicles and their low operating costs more accessible to low-income residents by authorizing rebates for replacement batteries and fuel cells for owners of secondhand EVs (AB193), providing carpool lane stickers for secondhand EVs (SB957), and prioritizing low-income Californians for first-come first-served rebates on EV purchases until 2022 (AB2885). The CVRP program also offers additional rebates for low and moderate-income consumers.

Regional Response


Policies that address EVs and EV charging infrastructure are now found in nearly all recent local Climate Action Plans. This had led to additional charging infrastructure beyond those incentivized by the state.


The San Diego County Incentive Project is one of seven California Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Projects (CALeVIP). It is funded with $21.7 million over three years by the California Energy Commission and implemented by the Center for Sustainable Energy promoting DC and Level 2 fast chargers for businesses, commercial properties, multifamily buildings, K-12 facilities and local government facilities. Base rebate amounts and additional rebates for low-income communities are available and these chargers must be publicly available at all times.


In 2018, SANDAG initiated a Regional EV Charging Program and invited San Diego Air Pollution Control District (APCD) to join to combine local funding. This Program was then leveraged to bring the CaleVIP funding to the region to further the reduction of GHGs and reduce petroleum use.

What Are We Measuring?

We measure electric vehicle adoption by tracking the number of new rebates from the CVRP per 10,000 capita in San Diego County and other urban counties annually. Secondary measurements include the total number of electric vehicles, both battery and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, registered and the market share of electric vehicles in San Diego County and other counties. Learn more about the data.