Climate Protection: Local statistics on the transition to electric cars and trucks

Nick Maxwell

Last weekend, I bumped into a friend sitting in the shade enjoying the scene of parents and strollers, bags of goodies from the Edmonds farmers’ market, people lining up at Mar-ket and Starbucks, and the beautiful sky. It has been so beautiful this past month.

I mentioned I was surprised at how little I felt about the horrors of the temperatures around the country. With such beautiful weather here, something inside me was much more relaxed about the news than made sense. I was worried I was going to hurt someone’s feelings, and my friend confirmed my worries.

He said that just the day before he was talking about the beautiful weather with an older friend, when they had to stop him. “Don’t talk to me about the weather. My sister is in Phoenix and we’re afraid to have her drive up here.”

At 110 °F in Phoenix, it is sensible that you would not want to get stuck waiting for a tow truck with a dead air conditioner. The Maricopa County Health Department has reported that 25 people have died from heat in the Phoenix area this year.

So I’m enjoying the beautiful weather and I’m checking in with friends about their families.

On our end up here, we have momentum on doing our part. Along with the weather, this is another joy to watch.

I’ve seen this kind of thing before. I remember when luggage had no wheels. Americans and people around the world used to carry their luggage. Then there were wheeled frames that you strapped your luggage to. Then there were suitcases with two wheels that you tilted to move them. Now there are suitcases and carry-ons with four wheels.

For centuries, we could have put wheels on our luggage anytime we wanted. Wheels were invented more than 6,000 years ago. Even so, there we were in the 20th century lifting and carrying our luggage everywhere.

I remember when no one cleaned up after their dogs. Walking on the sidewalk meant keeping your eyes down at all times and stepping around the messes. That was just how it was. And then people started picking up after their dogs.

I remember when just about everyone smoked. And then just about everyone stopped.

Now we are making a new transition. People are starting to drive electric cars.

Electric cars are not a new technology either. Golfers have been driving them for decades. The first electric car was built in 1832.

Researchers this year reported that, for each 2% increase in electric vehicle adoption, emergency room visits for asthma dropped 3.2%. That research was based on electric vehicle adoption rates up to 14%.  The drop in ER visits will probably be smaller as electric vehicles get closer to 100%.

I recently got a first-hand experience of this. I was walking to the farmers’ market on an 80-degree day. I was just level with the back bumper of a pickup truck when it pulled out. I flinched, expecting the blast of hot exhaust. I held my breath, not wanting a mouthful of diesel fumes. It was silly. The truck was a Rivian. Rivians have no exhaust. No exhaust means no hot blast and no fumes.

Here’s how far we have gotten in the EV transition in our local cities:

Electric-Vehicle Percent of Registered Cars and Trucks

City June 2022 June 2023 Increase Over the Last Year
Edmonds 2.1% 2.5% 24%
Lynnwood 1.3% 2.2% 69%
Mountlake Terrace 1.1% 1.7% 55%
Snohomish County 1.3% 1.9% 46%
Washington State 1.2% 1.7% 46%

These figures are from Climate Protection Northwest analysis of Washington State Department of Transportation reports on vehicle registrations.

Ownership percentages follow changes in what cars and trucks people are buying. Even if everyone committed to buying only electric vehicles today, we would still have gasoline-burning cars and trucks on the road for years to come.

Here’s how things look locally in what people are buying:

Electric-Vehicle Percent of Purchases

City April-June 2022 April-June 2023 Increase Over the Last Year
Edmonds 4.0% 6.1% 53%
Lynnwood 2.6% 5.9% 127%
Mountlake Terrace 3.3% 3.9% 20%
Snohomish County 2.6% 5.1% 94%
Washington State 2.1% 3.9% 81%

On the electric vehicle front, things are coming along.

On the natural gas front, it’s not clear that things are changing. I haven’t seen useful data on natural gas in Lynnwood, or Mountlake Terrace.  Edmonds posts data about natural gas usage in Edmonds on the city website. For the last five years, natural gas burning in Edmonds has held steady at roughly one billion cubic feet each year. Currently, Edmonds homes and businesses spend about $14 million on natural gas each year.

Upcoming Creative Retirement Class

This fall, those of us in the Edmonds-Lynnwood-Mountlake Terrace region have a chance to learn a lot more about climate change. Professor Richard Gammon is teaching a class at the Creative Retirement Institute at Edmonds College. Dr. Gammon was hired by the United Nations in 1990 to help create the first comprehensive report on what was known about global-warming pollution and climate change.  On four Mondays, from Sept. 18 through Oct. 9, Professor Gammon will be presenting how the global climate system works, what has been happening, and what we can do about it. I’ll be there as his loyal sidekick. My part of the class is what we can do about it. This is a great opportunity to hear the most recent understanding of climate science from a world-recognized expert (Dr. Gammon).

What about …

This section of this column provides some quick news about questions people have asked.

Heavy Vehicles

Buying only electric means buying an electric vehicle when you replace your current car or truck. You can buy electric and buy a heavy vehicle, and you can buy electric and not buy a heavy vehicle. Some people prefer heavy vehicles. They feel safer in a vehicle that won’t be pushed around as much in the event of a collision. Those people can get a heavy electric vehicle. Some people, like me, like small cars. There are small and light electric vehicles too. Everyone can join in on getting an electric vehicle.

Here are a few cars and trucks and how much they weigh:

Car or Truck Energy Weight (lbs)
Ford F250 Gasoline 6,700
Chevy Silverado Gasoline 5,000
Ford F150 Gasoline 4,700
Dodge Caravan Gasoline 4,500
Tesla 3 Electric 4,000
Nissan Leaf Electric 3,500
Chevy Bolt Electric 3,500
Honda CR-V Gasoline 3,500
Electric Mini Cooper Electric 3,100
Fiat 500e Electric 3,000

I hear there is a lot of concern about heavy vehicles. Given all the concern, maybe a nonprofit will start up to push to get SUVs and pickups off the road.  I don’t know that that would be a good idea

— By Nick Maxwell

Nick Maxwell is a Climate Reality seminar leader in Edmonds, a Rewiring America local leader, and a climate protection educator at Climate Protection Northwest.


  1. This whole idea of E-Car’s saving the planet is 100% Propaganda. If you don’t believe it then research it, but here are some truth’s you don’t hear from most media:

    -Driving an E Vehicle has very little impact on oil use. Most oil is used by Aircraft, Big trucks, etc.
    -Electricity is not Green. It’s very dirty. You use a dirty energy source to charge you so called 0 emissions E Vehicle
    -To make 1 E Vehicle Battery you have to mine 500,000 pounds of rock and mineral and most of the mining is using child slave labor (How is that 0 emission or even acceptable)
    -To produce 1 E Vehicle, 10,000 to 20,000 tons of Co2 are used
    -The first 60,000 miles of an E Vehicle produces more Co2 than a normal gas powered car
    -At 100,000 miles you reduce Co2 by 20-30%. That is not net 0
    -WE don not have enough grid capacity to charge the growing numbers of E Vehicles. This will lead to rationing like in California
    -Today energy systems are designed by bureaucrats, not engineers
    -You are not saving the planet driving an E Vehicle!!!

  2. Rivian trucks have had some problems. Colder weather and heavy weather have reduced operating times. I’m sure they will work on these problems, but sales, at this time, may not be as great as they would like them.

    Giving up natural gas for homes is major! Most home owners with natural gas will be reluctant to change! Many prefer natural gas for cooking, including about 100% of all restaurants. Making a change to all electric will be met with opposition.

    There will be huge demands for electricity in years to come! Noble as it may be, the transition will be very difficult!
    90% of our citizens when queried said they do not want an electric vehicle.

  3. I meant to say “heavy loads” for Rivian trucks may be a problem! Their batteries drain much quicker with heavy loads and colder weather!

  4. A helpful reader pointed out that there was a typo. When this column was first published, it mistakenly reported that Lynnwood EV purchases were “2.9%” of 2023 April-June purchases in Lynnwood.
    They were 5.9%. My mistake. Many apologies. I think we can fix that.
    Many thanks to the sharp-eyed reader who caught the mistake!

  5. I ordered my Tesla Model 3 on April 1 2016: the day they were announced by Elon Musk. I took delivery on September 28, 2018: 30 months later after much frustration and many thoughts about cancelling the order due to the delays. I am so very glad that I stuck it out and waited to get this magnificent vehicle.

    It is true that the initial production of an EV produces a lot of carbon emissions. I have not verified the claim that these emissions match the first 60,000 miles of driving a gasoline vehicle but let’s not forget that the manufacturing of that gasoline vehicle also produces a lot of carbon emissions. Let’s also remember that EV’s are essentially maintenance free: the motors on a Tesla have been tested to a million miles so, even if it’s true that the production emissions are higher than those of a gasoline vehicle; the nett over the lifetime of the EV will be dramatically smaller. I plan to keep my vehicle for a very long time. Finally, while some electricity production can be dirty, here in the PNW our electricity is almost exclusively hydro powered.

    1. Niall, The production of gas was included in the 60,000 miles. Additionally E Vehicles go through tires 20% faster and are about 750 pounds heavier on average than a normal gas engine car. This extra weight also wears down our roads faster. Also our cheap power comes from Hydro Electric Dams which have a negative impact on fish migration, etc.

      I’m not here to bash E Vehicles (some of them are very nice cars and fun to drive). Everyone has the right to drive whatever they want!! I’m just tired of people saying that if we all drive E Vehicles we can save the planet. It’s misleading and an outright lie just like most of the Save the Planet Rhetoric we hear, like banning Natural Gas, budling wind farms, solar, and getting rid of the combustion engine in California. California can’t even keep their grid on 24/7 for the demand they already have. Their grid is so old it sparks and creates wild fires.

      When peeling back the onion on this, really look at who is pushing it. That will tell you a lot. I agree with Tamara, read the book False Alarm!!

  6. All electric vehicles and doing away with natural gas use entirely are easy answers. Guess what, there are no easy answers to this climate thing. What is really needed is less human population growth, less use of airplanes over land with high speed diesel electric type trains over land, and an immediate stop to any more massive deforestation. Those things are not going to happen and the planet as we know it is probably not going to be saved by what we aren’t doing. That said; we need to try.

  7. Where did you get this guy? His anecdotal stories are silly and only reinforce the fact that his research is baseless. Please provide the resources for your claims. Please look at the funding of any studies cited. Anyone can say whatever they like, but when one is “given” a column there should be some responsibility to honest reporting, not the pushing of propaganda. My Edmonds News should require better.

    Rather than going to a class I suggest reading the very well documented book False Alarm by Bjorn Lomborg. We need to seriously scrutinize those we consider to be the “experts” and how they arrive at and support their conclusions. Much of it is built on sinking sand. Pushing fear and taking the rights of citizens based on false data is wrong. But it is our responsibility to look into information being fed to us.

    1. All columnists have a point of view. You are welcome to disagree with it, of course. The climate protection work that is being done currently at the local, state and national level tracks with information being presented.
      — Teresa

      1. Folks — this is totally unrelated to what is being discussed in this thread but it seemed to be a good time to mention it. We have some new commenters here who are commenting with first name only or using false names that I can’t confirm. Our policy for this commenting community is to require first and last names that I can verify (and I do my best to do that). I will never publish your email address nor will I share it with anyone else without your permission. I know some people don’t like that policy but it is necessary to ensure that people are willing to stand behind the opinions they post. No one has the right to comment here, it is privilege — and I am committed to keeping it that way.
        — Teresa

  8. Correlation does not equal causation. Too many greenies make that false leap.

    I, too, have been guilty of that.

    …Just sayin’

  9. Wow, only 2% of current cars and 6% of new car purchases are electric, I was sure hoping it would be more than that.
    The shift to our new electric economy is going to have to be quicker than this. Our mother Earth is being staggered right now by increasing green house gasses.
    It will only get worse.
    Of course there will be pushback by the doubters and deniers. Folks trying to change science into cultural wars.
    Of course there will be political contributions,lobbying and greenwashing /advertising by the American Petroleum Institute . There is so much money to be made from oil and gas.
    But the fact remains that we need to transition away from oil and gas as quickly as possible. Future generations are counting on us to do the right thing now. Time is of the essence .
    We must all do our part.
    Thank you Teresa and Nick for publishing this climate change series.

    1. Just one more person pushing a false narrative. Thinking electric cars will save the planet. Where do we get all the electricity from Bill? Literally how do we produce enough energy for every person to have an E Vehicle. California can’t even meet demand for normal electrical use.

      I appreciate your passion for E Vehicles and the power and driving experience they deliver but it does nothing to protect the environment.

      Do you know in Holland the government tried to take over farmland and kill hundreds of thousands of cows to protect the earth? Literally they tried to do this. This extremism should not be tolerated. People are using this to create a new economy that they control. Get rid of the combustion engine and farmland to save the earth. It’s nuts. And the people driving it have an agenda. Plain and simple. Don’t buy it!!

  10. Bill, the planet or mother nature or however you want to phrase the concept of Earth ecology will bring itself back into balance one way or another over time. The idea that mankind can reproduce with never ending exponential growth forever has to be part of this discussion and it is not. Some forms of human transportation (gas, electric, wind, human muscle) are much more efficient than others which has to be part of this conversation and it is not (at least for the most part). Turning forest and farmland into housing and ranch land has to be part of this discussion and it is not (for the most part). What should be government mandated and what should not, in a free society, has to be part of this discussion and it is not for the most part. The future does not look good, but the fact is we all live for awhile and then die so getting too worked up about all this is a waste of our valuable time on earth. Future generations will have to cope, just like we do, until we pass.

  11. Buying an Electric vehicle does not help save the climate. It may make you happier as you fit in better with your political party.

    1. I’m tempted to remark that buying a gas-guzzling, pollution-emitting battleship of an SUV
      “may make you happier as you fit in better with your political party.” But partisan tropes aside, in this state driving an EV is cheaper by a considerable margin; see which reveals that per fill-up, an electric truck will save $80, an SUV $49, and a sedan $59.

      I gas up my hybrid Volvo about every two months – unless I’m on a road trip – and get over 100 mph on local trips (and 42 mpg on gas alone). Nothing partisan about saving money! Unless maybe spending more “may make you happier as you fit in better with your political party.” 😉

      1. Great observation as usual Nathaniel. Toyota corporation is going all out on improving their already excellent record with gas/electric hybrids being their answer; rather than a knee jerk to all electric. If I ever buy another car or truck it will be a plug in hybrid, if I can find one I can afford.

  12. Across the world there are millions of farmers using gas powered tractors to provide food for the masses! Can a switch to electric farm implements keep up with the need? I seriously doubt it and we continue down a very dangerous road.

    Can we truly stop global warming by altering our energy resource? I doubt it very much! Mother Earth is doing her thing! Mankind may be contributing somewhat to global warming, but surely is not the main cause.

    We in America have cut CO2 levels in the past few years while other major countries have done very little. Other countries still utilize fossil fuels while we ban natural gas, incandescent light bulbs, etc. Where do we fit in with the rest of the world?

    Lastly, we flirt with the danger of a nuclear war! Something needs to change!

  13. The following article appeared in my news feed this morning. It’s a little tangential to the discussion here but it does intersect in a number of ways. It addresses the question of the cost to open and operate an EV. But it also illustrates the level of nuance that is required (and most often absent) in discussions of this sort as well as illustrating the extent to which one persons facts are another’s “lies dammed lies and statistics”. At the end of the day there are no silver bullets but it seems to me that reducing the amount of pollution we put into the air we breathe is a good thing and electrification is one way to do that. Is it devoid of environmental harm? No! But as the technology improves I have no doubt that the environmental footprint of EVs will decline just as the environmental impact of gasoline powered vehicles has declined over the years.

    1. Thanks for the link, Niall!
      It’s great to see the costs of charging vs filling up.
      Cross country trips are where I thought things would be different.
      I imagined driving for a while, and then stopping and getting to know a place while your car charges up. That’s kind of been how my family road trips anyway. Some of our best times have been walking around to stretch our backs before driving away again. Yakima used to have a bakery with a Paris-trained baker. Livingstone MT has a wonderful restaurant in their old train station. Butte MT has a coffee shop and an art gallery in a 19th century building. Leadville CO has two-mile-high air. One small town in Iowa has a museum set up behind the plate glass of abandoned shops. You peer in to see mid-century small-town life.
      My brother travels in a Tesla and doesn’t get out of his car while charging. Instead he watches 20 minutes of a movie on the dashboard screen. Maybe that’s just as well. He’s so busy. It’s pretty much the only time he takes to watch movies.

  14. Pretty much a cherry-picking hit job!
    “For more regular use, many EV users opt to install a 240-volt Level 2 charger at a cost of around $1000.”
    – Mine cost about half that much.
    “… expensive low-profile tires that are prone to blowouts…”
    – Mine are 5 years old, still going strong. Low-profile tires are more energy efficient, and more stable.
    “… an EV requires a certain amount of routine maintenance to keep it on the road and running safely.”
    – Mine has been maintenance-free. “…required a certain amount of maintenance.” What doesn’t?
    “…shockingly few EV batteries now find their way into recycling centers. “In some parts of the world, it’s considerably less.”
    – “Some parts of the world” is irrelevant to discussion of EV’s here. Ask before you replace. Yes, they do eventually need replacing, but after 5 years mine is functioning perfectly.
    “Over its lifetime, an electric car will have significantly less impact on the environment than its gasoline equivalent. But EVs aren’t exactly green from the get-go.”
    – Who ever claimed EV’s were greener immediately? Other than not spewing noxious fumes from the get-go? And they’re quieter!

  15. Thank you, Nick Maxwell, for this thoughtful look on how gas versus EV ownership is changing at a local level. I love my EV, a Hyundai IONIQ 5. It’s all wheel drive, does great it snow, has a 320 mile range, and makes Elon Musk really mad. But my favorite EV that I’ve ever seen is the one in the Dwight D. Eisenhower presidential library in Abilene, Kansas. His mother-in-law drove an electric car and President Eisenhower would drive it when he visited.

  16. Per Climate Change, sometimes we think we are more than we really are…

    And then along comes a volcano…

  17. Don, you are so right! A lot happens when “Mother Earth” is in charge! Volcanos, earthquakes and other natural occurrences! We don’t know what will happen and so-called scientists do not know either. We are putting all of our eggs in one basket and are led to believe that mankind rules our future! Nothing can be farther from the truth!

    We are being robbed of our freedoms! No fossil fuels, etc! Where do these people get off deciding our future?
    If we die it should not be as a third world country and a friggin banana republic! I think Teresa has banned me!

  18. Sorry, Teresa! You have given our community a priceless venue to vent our beliefs and frustrations! As an older citizen I have experienced a different time when people valued our heritage, our laws, our constitution and respected one another. The newer generation did not live through WW2, The Korean War, Vietnam and perhaps even our Gulf War! So many lives lost for the benefit of our freedom and our way of life! I won’t live to see all of these changes to the USA and maybe that is a good thing! Thank God I was able to live through the glorious years of our nation!

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