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This indicator is measured by:
  • Number of Cars Registered in DC that are Electric or Hybrid
  • Percent of Cars Registered in DC that are Electric or Hybrid

Electric car
An electric Smart Car charges at the District's new EV public curbside charging station. Photo credit: District Department of Transportation
There’s no doubt that there has been a noticeable increase in the number of hybrid vehicles on the road in the past decade. In fact, in the first quarter of 2011, sales of new hybrid and electric vehicles soared by 37 percent. For residents who find they need a car for transportation, hybrid and electric vehicles are a much more environmentally—and economically—beneficial option than traditional gasoline-powered cars. 

So, what makes these hybrid and electric cars special? A hybrid car is powered by an internal combustion engine in conjunction with an electric motor. Thus, the car is a hybrid because it is powered by two sources of energy—gasoline and electricity. A process known as regenerative braking stores kinetic energy from the brakes to keep the electric motor powered. Because hybrids use less gasoline than typical cars (and can get up to 60 miles per gallon on the highway!), they produce much less pollution. 

By contrast, electric vehicles do not use any gasoline. They are powered solely by the electricity that flows through their rechargeable battery packs. No pollutants are emitted from the tailpipe of an electric car. However, it is important to note that the electricity which charges an electric car may be produced from a power plant that does produce pollutants. Electric car owners may purchase solar or wind-powered electricity to further “green” their transportation. 

In addition to the environmental benefits, there are also financial incentives to convert to a hybrid or electric vehicle. Drivers who purchased electric cars in 2010 or later may be eligible for a federal income tax credit of up to $7,500. The District also offers an excise tax exemption and reduced registration fees for hybrid and electric vehicles. 

Charging close up
A close-up view of an electric car charging. Photo credit: District Department of Transportation
How is the indicator defined? How often updated?

The indicator is a monthly-updated count of the number of registered hybrid cars, the number of registered electric cars, the percentage of registered cars in the District that are hybrid, and the percentage of registered cars in the District that are electric. This data is provided by the District Department of Motor Vehicles. 

What influences this indicator?

The instability of fuel prices may encourage drivers who wish to save money on fuel costs to buy hybrid or electric vehicles. As hybrid and electric cars become more widespread, their prices are likely to become increasingly competitive with conventional vehicles. A desire to reduce personal transportation emissions may also persuade some buyers to purchase a car from the growing selection of hybrid and electric vehicles. 

The current inconvenience of needing to recharge an electric vehicle every 100 to 200 miles may be enough to deter some from making the purchase. However, others may be excited by the possibility of buying much less—or no—gasoline again. 

Reeves Center ChargePoint station
The 240V Level II Coulomb ChargePoint station is located at the Franklin D. Reeves Center, 2000 14th St., NW. Photo Credit: District Department of Transportation
What you can do to help:
  • Consider purchasing an electric or hybrid vehicle if you’re looking for a great way to save money on gas while reducing your emissions.
  • Even if you don’t own a hybrid or electric car, you can still improve your fuel economy by following the speed limit, removing excess weight from your car, keeping your tires inflated, and minimizing the amount of time you idle your vehicle. Carpooling is also a simple way to reduce your emissions.

Related indicators: Co2e Levels, Air Quality 

Links to related programs:

The District Department of Motor Vehicles’ Tax Exemption and Reduced Fees  

Federal Tax Credit Information 

Other Links 

U.S. Department of Energy’s Fuel Economy Website 

U.S. News “Five Reasons to Buy a Hybrid Car”

Environmental Defense Fund’s Tailpipe Tally: How Green is your Car?  

How Hybrids Work

U.S. Department of Energy 2011-12 Electric Vehicles  

U.S. Department of Energy Compare Hybrids Side-by-Side

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