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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

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. Read More

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Sparks

Coal’s Slowdown Is Slowing Down

Rising electricity demand puts reliability back on the table.

Pollution.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

The United States has been able to drive its greenhouse gas emissions to their lowest level since the early 1990s largely by reducing the amount of energy on the grid generated by coal to a vast extent. In 2005, by far the predominant source of U.S. electricity, making up some 2.2 million gigawatt-hours of the country’s 4.3 million GWh total energy consumption, according to the International Energy Agency. In 2022, by contrast, coal generation was down to 900,000 GWh out of 4.5 million GWh generated. As a result, “U.S. emissions are 15.8% lower than 2005 levels, while power emissions are 40% lower than 2005 levels,” according to BloombergNEF and the Business Council for Sustainable Energy.

But the steady retirement of coal plants may be slowing down. Only 2.3 GW of coal generating capacity are set to be shut down so far in 2024, according to the Energy Information Administration. While in 2025, that number is expect to jump up to 10.9 GW, the combined 13.2 GW of retired capacity pales in comparison of the more than 22 GW retired in the past two years, according to EIA figures. Over the past decade, coal retirements have averaged about 10 GW a year, with actual retirements often outpacing forecasts.

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Trump Thinks EV Charging Will Cost $3 Trillion — Which Is Incorrect

Nor will charging infrastructure ”bankrupt” the U.S.

Electric car charging.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

Shortly after being fined $350 million (more than $450 million, including interest) over fraudulent business practices and then booed at Sneaker Con, former President Donald Trump traveled to Waterford, Michigan, where he said some incorrect things about electric vehicles.

Even by Trump’s recent standards, Saturday’s Waterford rally was a bit kooky. During his nearly hour-and-a-half-long speech, the former president claimed that his opponents are calling him a whale (“I don’t know if they meant a whale from the standpoint of being a little heavy, or a whale because I got a lot of money”) and, improbably, claimed not to have known what the word “indictment” meant.

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This Chicken Named Potato Will Teach Your Kids About Climate Change

A chicken from the future, to be clear.

Future Chicken.
Heatmap Illustration/CBC, Getty Images

If I told you there was a chicken named Potato who was going to teach our kids about climate change, would you think I was kidding? Either way, I’m here to inform you that Future Chicken, an “ECOtainment platform” co-created by Catherine Winder and Annabel Slaight, launched last year, including original content like a TV show that airs on CBC and YouTube, games, and a podcast, all aimed at warding off climate doom and instead highlighting climate solutions.

Winder and Slaight have, to put it mildly, impressive resumes, with Slaight having been an executive producer of The Big Comfy Couch and Winder a force behind multiple Angry Birds movies. The show’s premise is fun, and was actually thought up by kids. The main character is a chicken (named Potato) from the year 2050, a time when climate change has seemingly been solved. She travels back and forth between the future and the present, sometimes talking about the solutions of her time.

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