Diversity and Electric Vehicles

I grew up in a lower-middle class Hispanic household in Prince Georges County. Since as far as I can remember my parents would do anything to save money. “Who left the lights on?!” or “Why are you taking so long in the shower!” would be common things I would hear growing up. Whether these things actually ended up saving us money, they instilled in me a sense of value for the money that has stayed with me to this day.

Today, electric vehicles can help us reduce our pollution and oil-dependency, but also save us money in the long run. The thought of not having to go to a gas station and dump between $45-$50 a week sounds very appealing to me and my frugal mother would be very proud.

However, I can’t help to wonder: Are electric vehicles accessible to minorities or is this just another marker of our society’s racial wealth gap? These questions led me to dig into the state of the current market. Based on the 2010 Census, the breakdown of population by race in the state of Maryland is as follows:

Now we look at the Hybrid and alternative fuel vehicle owners by race in the state of Maryland and begin to see the differences in the distribution of our current market.

The lack of Latino presence in the sample is surprising considering that Latinos are the largest minority group in the state behind African Americans. Also that despite African Americans being 30% of Maryland’s population, they still only form 17% of all Hybrid and alternative fuel car owners in the state. In short, this shows us that alternative fuel vehicles have a long way to go in reaching the wider public. But there could be a silver lining here. Electric vehicles could bridge this gap given their money saving qualities, decrease in battery cost, and dropping prices. However, diversifying the electric car should be a goal for this industry if we want to insure future support and growth in the state of Maryland.

The 2009 National Household Travel Survey can be downloaded here.