Vehicle Registration & Fuel Type

Alternative Fuel Vehicles: Only 1% of all Registrations, but Growing

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?


Nearly 47,000 new cars, trucks and motorcycles were added to San Bernardino County’s vehicle registration rolls between 2018 and 2019. This one-year change reflects a growth rate of 3%, which is slightly faster than the statewide growth rate of 2%. Since 2005, registrations have grown 21%.


Vehicle Registrations in San Bernardino County, 2007-2021

The rapid adoption of alternative fueled vehicles continued in 2020, with San Bernardino County residents adding over 3,700 battery electric, plug-in hybrid, or hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. This represents a one-year growth rate of 32%. These three vehicle types were selected for tracking because they may be eligible for Clean Air Vehicle (CAV) decals that allow access for use in HOV lanes regardless of the number of passengers.

Together these three types of alternative fuel vehicles make up only 1% of San Bernardino County vehicles, but they are among the fastest growing. In 2020, hybrid gas vehicles made up 2% and ethanol powered vehicles made up 4%. The remaining 93% of vehicles in San Bernardino County are powered by fossil fuels, including gasoline, diesel, or natural gas.


Alternative Fuel Vehicles by Type in San Bernardino County, 2016-2022

Note: Data for 2016-2020 are from September of the given year; data for 2021-2022 are from March of the given year. Hybrid includes conventional, diesel-hybrid, and plug-in hybrids.
Source: California Department of Motor Vehicles, Motive Power Report (by special request)

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 have no gasoline engine, longer electric driving ranges compared to plug-in hybrids, and do not produce tailpipe emissions (though there are emissions associated with charging these vehicles).

Fuel Cell: A fuel cell 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.