Electric vehicle (EV) sales continue to set records, a positive trend for automakers Mercedes-Benz and Hyundai, which have Alabama-built EVs rolling off assembly lines in Tuscaloosa and Montgomery.
American consumers purchased more than 300,000 battery-powered vehicles (BEV) in the third quarter of 2023 to set a new sales record, according to a report by Kelley Blue Book. That’s up from the previous record of 298,000 EVs, set in the second quarter of this year, and reflects a nearly 50 percent increase from the third quarter of 2022.
In addition, the average cost of a new EV dropped from $65,000 a year ago got $50,683 now. That’s a decline of about 20 percent.
“It’s clear that more and more Americans are beginning to switch to EVs, one reason being that people are starting to see how much money they can save on fuel and maintenance costs,” said Blake Hardwich, executive director of the Energy Institute of Alabama. “Our state is making EV charging more accessible than ever, private companies are offering incentives to help EV owners, and Alabama autoworkers are seeing the benefits of manufacturers making the transition to building EVs here in our state.
“Add it all up and it’s easy to see how EVs benefit Alabama’s economic future.”
Just last month, Drive Electric Alabama, the state’s EV education program, conducted EV showcases in Auburn, Mobile, Huntsville and Birmingham as part of the national Drive Electric Week program. Those events were coordinated to showcase the variety of available EVs on the market and to foster candid conversations between EV owners and every-day Alabamians wanting to learn more about the benefits of driving electric.
The state of Alabama is working to accommodate the increased adoption of EVs. In August, the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) announced $1.2 million in state grants for construction of EV charging stations. That’s the third straight year ADECA has awarded EV infrastructure grants in a program that’s now invested more than $7.5 million to increase the number of publicly available charging stations.
Alabama companies have taken notice of the growing popularity of EVs. Alabama Power, for instance, offers an discounting overnight rate for EV owners from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., as well as a $500 rebate for EV owners who install a Level 2 charger at home.
Automobile manufacturing remains one of the state’s leading industries as Alabama ranks as the No. 3 auto exporting state, trailing only Michigan and South Carolina. In Tuscaloosa, Alabama workers build all-electric luxury SUVs for Mercedes, and Hyundai builds the electric Genesis GV70 SUV in Montgomery.
“It’s impossible to overstate the impact Mercedes-Benz has had on Alabama’s economy since the company decided to build its manufacturing plant here in the 1990s,” said state Sen. Gerald Allen (R-Tuscaloosa). “As Mercedes continues to electrify its fleet, it’s important that we embrace this changing industry so that the high-paying jobs it creates stay right here in Alabama and we can continue to grow our economy.”
EVs will be the focus of a new robotics park in Tanner, Trenholm State Community College recently won a $240,000 grant to expand its automotive service program to train students on EV maintenance, a new EV charging station was recently unveiled at the RaceTrac in Oxford, and the City of Montevallo cut the ribbon on a new EV charging station in its downtown business district.
“There’s clearly momentum surrounding EVs in Alabama,” said Michael Staley, president of the Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition.
Consumers can also receive federal tax credits for purchasing EVs, and a $5 billion federal program will create a nationwide network of charging stations, with Alabama slated to receive $79 million.
“More Americans and more Alabamians are going electric,” Staley said. “They clearly see they can save money on fuel costs. They see they can save over time on maintenance costs. They see more charging stations thanks to the efforts of ADECA and private companies like RaceTrac. They see the tax credits and incentives offered by companies like Alabama Power. That all adds up to seeing more EVs on Alabama highways.”