Charging station

Owasso Land Trust recently partnered with Francis Solar, a solar energy expert out of Tulsa, to install four electric vehicle charging stations across the city. ART HADDAWAY/Owasso Reporter

Four years ago, Oklahoma car dealerships sold fewer than 300 electric vehicles, which — rounded to the nearest decimal — amounted to a market share of 0.0%.

Also four years ago, Tulsa and Oklahoma City officials formed the Oklahoma EV Coalition to begin “working aggressively to increase EV adoption.”

Apparently it worked.

Sales more than doubled in 2017, reaching a market share of 0.1% of new car sales in the state, according to data from the Alliance of Auto Manufacturers. Then EV sales more than tripled in 2018 to have a 0.35% market share in Oklahoma.

That’s tiny. But a lot less tiny than it used to be. And when 2019 numbers become available, EV sales will no doubt set another record.

In fact, Oklahoma has become the fastest growing market for electric vehicles in the United States, according to the AAM, with year-over-year sales skyrocketing 288% despite the lack of tax incentives that give the market a boost in places like Colorado and California.

It doesn’t hurt that we have some of the cheapest electricity in the country. Gas prices would have to drop to 92 cents a gallon in Oklahoma for a traditional gas-powered car to achieve the same fuel costs, mile for mile, as the latest EVs, according to YourMechanic.com.

More importantly, Oklahoma has one of the most convenient charging networks in the country.

It’s not one of the biggest. California had 4,978 public charging stations in 2018, the most recent year with available data. And Colorado had 730 while Oklahoma had only 207. But per capita, that was a relatively generous number of charging stations for the state. And the stations are well dispersed across both urban and rural areas in Oklahoma to offer easy access for travelers, according to EV enthusiasts.

The website even ranks Oklahoma as the “most EV-friendly state,” beating out California and Washington as the best place to own an electric vehicle.

A lot of credit goes to the Oklahoma EV Coalition, formed through a partnership of the Central Oklahoma Clean Cities program and Tulsa Area Clean Cities, which is housed within the Indian Nations Council of Governments. The coalition has been working with Electrify America and other developers since 2016 to encourage investment in the state’s charging network. And it pushed the Federal Highway Administration to have all of Oklahoma’s interstate corridors and several state highways designated as electric-vehicle corridors.

Oklahoma’s electric revolution, however, is just getting started. Tulsa-based Francis Solar is preparing to activate more than 100 new charging stations across the state this year, creating what is expected to be one of the most extensive charging networks of its kind in the world.

“2020 is shaping up to be the ‘Year of the EV’ in Oklahoma,” Doug Duke, the president of the Oklahoma chapter of the Electric Auto Association, recently told the Tulsa World in a letter to the editor. “And the 2020s will be known as the decade the electric car prevailed.”


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Michael Overall 918-581-8383

michael.overall@tulsaworld.com

Twitter: @MichaelOverall2

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