Better EV decisions through data

February is dragging on for an extra day this year, delaying my favorite spring ritual: the opening day of baseball season. The extra day of eager contemplation has me combining a seasonal love of baseball with my year-round affection for electric vehicles (EVs). Bear with me here.

Baseball is an intensely data-driven sport. Whereas most sports are still using relatively simple stats like basketball’s “double double,” where a player reaches double digits in two statistical categories, baseball analysts predict teams’ expected wins by calculating Pythagorean scoring averages. Oakland Athletics General Manager Billy Beane fielded a winning team by using data to find players’ overlooked value, inspiring a famous book and cunningly selling Brad Pitt as a reasonable look-alike in the process.

Baseball shows the importance of data availability and statistical inferences in decision-making. Similarly, access to the best statistics may help transportation managers determine the best strategies to promote adoption of EVs, a market-ready transportation alternative that can reduce harmful emissions that contribute to climate change. The difficulty has been that data resources have been scattered, often difficult to locate and even more difficult to compile into a usable form. This is where a new data tool may be able to offer meaningful insights into EV markets.

A new tool to compare EV programs

EValuateNY, a data tool developed by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) with support from the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) and Atlas Public Policy, gathers information from a wide variety of sources to enable comparisons of different factors that may affect EV efforts. Consider the wide variety of activities to promote EVs:

  • States offer incentives, such as tax credits or rebates for the purchase or lease of a new vehicle, the installation of free or low-cost public charging, single-driver access to HOV lanes, or waivers on emissions testing.
  • Cities promote EVs by requiring public garages or parking lots to be wired for EV charging, or by setting an example and adopting EVs into public fleets.
  • Many electric utilities offer preferential EV charging rates and rebates for home charging installations, and several utilities are preparing to install thousands of charging stations in public locations.

All of these actions support EVs, but which are most effective? EValuateNY provides easy access to comprehensive data from the EV market in New York and lets government agencies, businesses, and researchers identify and compare factors that affect the market. EValuateNY contains data on EV registrations, promotional policies and activities at the state and city levels, demographics, fuel prices for both gasoline and electricity, HOV lane access, and more. Data that was never before easily comparable can now, with the click of a button, be put side by side, filtered by time and location. These comparisons allow users to glean new insights and look for trends in New York’s EV market. Users can access the tool for free from NYSERDA’s website:

EValuateNY offers two user interfaces using Microsoft’s Excel, shown below in the panel at left, and Power BI, a new program that allows users to explore and create striking visualizations, in the panel at right.

You may be asking “What does it show me?” We’ll explore some of the insights from the tool in an upcoming series of blog posts built around separate research questions. In the meantime, try out the tool for yourself now!

The value of data

This new tool can help us understand which efforts are the most effective at connecting consumers with EVs, growing EV markets and getting the biggest impact from public and private dollars. The wide range of information can be used to tell new stories about the development of New York’s EV market through rich visualizations. The insights that users can glean from EValuateNY may lead to more efficient programs that better meet consumer needs.

New York is an interesting market to study because it has the largest metropolitan area in the United States, as well as large rural expanses and a wide range of incomes. The state also has a wide range of EV policies and programs, such as major electric utilities that offer special EV prices, EV drivers’ access to HOV lanes, and state initiatives to expand public charging access. Even if you are not in New York, the insights gleaned from the EValuateNY tool may extend beyond the state’s borders. Just like the Yankees’ fan base (or foe base).

Batter up, EV supporters.