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Here’s why heartland states lag behind the coasts on EV adoption

Retail sales of EVs have yet to fully take off in the US heartland states, according to new analysis from S&P Global Mobility. How come?

The top eight EV markets in the United States are all in coastal states, and those markets represent more than half – 50.5% – of total EV registrations in 2022. The greater Los Angeles and San Francisco metropolitan areas alone account for nearly one-third of total share of the US EV market, which should really come as a surprise to no one.

The 22 heartland states represented 27.1% of total US vehicle retail sales through August, and their EV adoption rate has remained stagnant from 2021 into 2022, at 15.5%.

Interestingly, S&P reports that there isn’t much difference in the demographic and psychographic profiles of coastal and heartland buyers that are buying EVs:

There are just more of those types of people in Coastal and Smile states.

Caucasian buyers with high household incomes dominate both regions’ adopter bases. The only difference is that the central markets skew more toward a slightly younger demographic.

But both markets are seeing a decline in share from Caucasian buyers and an increase in Asian-American buyers, and they skew younger – 48% of Asian-American buyers were age 18-44. S&P asserts that younger buyers tend to be more open to new products and ideas.

So back to the original question: Why does the Midwest lag behind the coasts on EV adoption? S&P The report suggests:

A chicken-and-egg scenario might also be in play. The coastal cities have worked harder at creating charging infrastructures, as well as incentives for homeowners to install charging equipment in their garages.

James Martin, associate director of consulting for S&P Global Mobility, says:

There is no doubt that the lack of charger availability is an influence in midwestern states, but it is not the factor.

An equally strong factor is the availability of product in form factors that customers are willing to purchase.

There was no real option in terms of family-friendly, moderately priced CUVs. And some models, such as the Hyundai Kona EV, were initially not available in midwestern states – based on OEMs
deciding to focus on [the 12] Section 177 (CARB) states where automakers could accumulate credits.

Now automakers are beginning to produce more mainstream electric vehicles. Availability of these vehicles will most likely be a factor in spurring installation of more charging infrastructure.

Tom Libby, associate director of Loyalty Solutions and Industry Analysis at S&P Global Mobility, sums it up:

That inflection point is when the product becomes generally accepted and it usually occurs when volume and exposure reach a level that influences all the reluctant outliers.

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Avatar for Michelle Lewis Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis is a writer and editor on Electrek and an editor on DroneDJ, 9to5Mac, and 9to5Google. She lives in White River Junction, Vermont. She has previously worked for Fast Company, the Guardian, News Deeply, Time, and others. Message Michelle on Twitter or at Check out her personal blog.