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Sparks

EV Sales Just Hit Their Highest Level Ever in the U.S.

A Tesla dealership.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

In case you needed more convincing that buyers still like EVs just fine, sales of electric and hybrid light-duty vehicles in the U.S. rose to their highest-ever level in the third quarter of 2023, according to data released Monday by Wards Intelligence. Electric-powered vehicles (including those that are hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and purely battery-powered) made up 17.7% of all light-duty vehicle sales during that time period, while sales of gas-powered light duty vehicles fell to an all-time low of 82%.

The diverging trends were driven in part by falling prices for cleaner cars. The average cost of a battery-powered light-duty vehicle was just a hair over $50,000 in the quarter, well below their peak of $66,390 from the second quarter of 2022. That said, the numbers show that for most people, cleaner driving is still a luxurious experience — thanks in part to brands like Tesla and Rivian, battery-electric vehicles now make up 34% of the total luxury vehicle market, but are still just 2% of non-luxury sales.

For EVs to gain true mainstream adoption, those numbers will have to change. As Heatmap’s Emily Pontecorvo recently pointed out, most of the top EV-purchasing counties in America are among the country’s wealthiest, and existing research points to a correlation between income and EV early adopter status.

Regardless of who’s buying, though, the overall numbers are good. So far in 2023, 15.8% of light-duty vehicles sold were hybrids or EVs, up from 12.3% in 2022, and 8.5% in 2021. Numbers like these point to real momentum in the clean-driving space. As Jesse Jenkins wrote recently for Heatmap, all-electric vehicle sales have grown by roughly a 60% annualized rate for the past six quarters — that’s “fast enough to double EV sales every 14 months!”

I’m not saying EVs don’t face real obstacles in the consumer marketplace, from a lack of charging stations to partisan rancor to comically bad design. But if these numbers aren’t enough to make you feel at least a little bit of excitement, that’s on you.

Jacob Lambert profile image

Jacob Lambert

Jacob is Heatmap's founding multimedia editor. Before joining Heatmap, he was The Week's digital art director and an associate editor at MAD magazine.

Sparks

Wind Is More Powerful Than J. D. Vance Seems to Think

Just one turbine can charge hundreds of cell phones.

J.D. Vance.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

It’s a good thing most of us aren’t accountable for every single silly thing we’ve ever said, but most of us are not vice presidential running mates, either. Back in 2022, when J.D. Vance was still just a “New York Times bestselling author” and not yet a “junior senator from Ohio,” much less “second-in-line to a former president who will turn 80 in office if he’s reelected,” he made a climate oopsie that — now that it’s recirculating — deserves to be addressed.

If Democrats “care so much about climate change,” Vance argued during an Ohio Republican senator candidate forum during that year, “and they think climate change is caused by carbon emissions, then why is their solution to scream about it at the top of their lungs, send a bunch of our jobs to China, and then manufacture these ridiculous ugly windmills all over Ohio farms that don’t produce enough electricity to run a cell phone?”

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A worker and power lines.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

The United Nations calls 24/7 carbon-free energy generation, also known as hourly matching, “the end state of a fully decarbonized electricity system.” It means that every kilowatt-hour of electricity consumed is matched with a zero-emissions electricity source, every hour of every day. It’s something that Google and Microsoft are aiming to implement by 2030, and it represents a much more significant climate commitment than today’s default system of annualized matching

So here’s a positive sign: LevelTen Energy, the leading marketplace for power purchase agreements, just raised $65 million in Series D funding, led by the investment firm B Capital with participation from Microsoft, Google, and Prelude Ventures, among others.

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Beryl making landfall in Texas.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

Hurricane Beryl, ahem, barreled into America’s Gulf Coast as a Category 1 storm, and whenever something like that happens the entire global energy industry holds its breath. The Gulf of Mexico is not just a frequent target and breeding ground for massive storms, it is also one of America’s — and the world’s — most important energy hubs. Texas and Louisiana contains giant oil and gas fields, and the region is home to about half of the United States’ refining capacity.

At least so far, the oil and refining industry appears to have largely dodged Beryl’s worst effects. The storm made landfall in Matagorda, a coastal town between Galveston and Corpus Christi, both of which are major centers for the refinery industry. Only one refinery, the Phillips 66 facility in Sweeny, Texas, was in the storm’s cone, according to TACenergy, a petroleum products distributor. Phillips 66 did not respond to a request to comment, but Reuters reported that the Sweeny facility as well as its refinery in Lake Charles, Louisiana were powered and operating. Crude oil prices have seen next to no obvious volatility, rising to $83.88 a barrel on July 3 and since settling around $82.84.

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