Vehicle Registration & Fuel Type

Alternative Fuel Vehicles on the Rise

Tracking vehicle registrations can help a community understand its reliance on cars, and the potential for increased traffic congestion and air quality impacts. Tracking the growth in alternatively fueled cars helps illustrate the region’s contribution to statewide goals for reducing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions and reveals infrastructure that may be needed to support the growth of alternatively fueled cars, such as electric vehicle charging stations or hydrogen fuel stations. This indicator measures selected vehicle registrations including alternative fuel vehicles.

Vehicle Registrations Grow.

How is San Bernardino County Doing?

Alternative Fuel Vehicles, by Type

San Bernardino County, 2018
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Source: California Department of Motor Vehicles

The number of vehicles registered annually in San Bernardino County continues to grow:

  • In 2018, there were more than 1.7 million vehicles registered (1,711,043) including autos, trucks, and motorcycles.
  • This is an increase of approximately 21,700 vehicles, or 1.3%, since 2017.
  • The number of registered vehicles dipped slightly during the recession but increased consistently each year since 2011, growing a total of 18% between 2011 and 2018, outpacing the statewide increase of 14% during the same period.
  • Among all vehicles registered in San Bernardino County in 2018, less than one percent (0.7% or 11,656 cars) were plug-in hybrid, battery electric, or fuel cell vehicles. The remainder of registered vehicles used gasoline, diesel or another form of fuel.
  • While still a small proportion of all vehicles, the number of alternative fuel vehicles is rapidly increasing. The number of battery electric vehicles grew by 54% between 2017 and 2018, and plug-in hybrid cars grew by 37%. At the same time, fuel cell vehicles more than doubled (from 62 to 130 cars).

Vehicle Registrations

San Bernardino County, 2004-2018
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Source: California Department of Motor Vehicles

Alternative Fuel Vehicle Definitions

Plug-in hybrid: A plug-in hybrid electric vehicle has both an electric motor and internal combustion engine, and therefore uses battery-powered electricity and gasoline in tandem for power. Unlike conventional hybrids, the batteries can be charged by plugging into an outlet.

Battery electric: These vehicles run exclusively on electricity via on-board batteries that are charged by plugging into an outlet or charging station. They do not have a gasoline engine and therefore do not produce tailpipe emissions (although there are emissions associated with charging these vehicles), and they have longer electric driving ranges compared to plug-in hybrids.

Fuel Cell: A fuel cell electric vehicle uses an electric-only motor like a battery electric vehicle, but stores energy differently. Instead of recharging a battery, fuel cell electric vehicles store hydrogen gas in a tank. The fuel cell combines hydrogen with oxygen from the air to produce electricity. The electricity from the fuel cell then powers an electric motor, which powers the vehicle. The only byproduct of fuel cell electric vehicles is water.