EV ownership on Long Island is expected to continue to climb, with an estimated 100,000 EVs predicted in Nassau and Suffolk counties by next fall. Credit: Newsday

Long Island leads the state in electric-vehicle purchases because of the high penetration of single-family homes and its geographical compactness requires less battery capacity, according to a coalition that celebrated the Island surpassing the 51,000 EV milestone this week.

With about 82% of Long Island’s 1 million-plus homes being single-family dwellings, the ability to charge at home is greater proportionately than other regions, according to the Drive Electric Long Island Coalition, a nonprofit advocacy group. That makes charging cheaper and easier than relying on public chargers.

As of January, Nassau had 26,043 registered EVs and plug-in hybrid vehicles on the road, while Suffolk had 25,088, for a combined 51,131, according to Atlas Public Policy. New York City’s five boroughs had 51,069 during the same period, with more than double Long Island's population.

Long Island has around 2.2 million total cars, or about 2.2 cars per household, the group said, so the 51,000-plus EVs still remain less than 3% of the total. But the numbers are advancing quickly and could be helped by increasing inventory and models, government incentives, new utility charger rebates and rate discounts for nighttime charging.

“People can conveniently and [less expensively] charge at home” on Long Island, said Rosemary Mascali, chairwoman of Drive Electric Long Island, noting that home charging can cut the cost of charging an EV by 40% using special off-peak rates.

The group found that every ZIP code on Long Island is seeing an increase in EV market share over standard gas-combustion vehicles.

Long Island’s geographical compactness means that EV owners can get most of their daily driving done in a smaller area, so EV drivers can get by longer without a charge. “The average vehicle-miles-traveled is under 50 miles a day on Long Island, an amount that can be easily handed by any EV,” Mascali said. Around 80% of Long Islanders live and work on the Island.

Hempstead Town leads Long Island with the number of electric cars and plug-in hybrids registered, at 9,931, the group found, compared with its total of 524,421 cars. North Hempstead, by comparison, has a higher percentage of EVs to gas-powered cars, even though its EV total is slightly lower at 7,510 EVs vs. 177,882 gas cars.

Long Islanders have a better chance of having one EV for local driving and a second car that's a hybrid or gas-powered car for handling longer distances, Mascali said.

Among the drawbacks to greater EV ownership on Long Island is the lack of availability of cheaper EVs, Mascali said. Most EVs, including Teslas, have been in the premium car market. Teslas make up just under half of EVs on Long Island at 22,773 registered owners. By comparison, less expensive Nissan LEAFs number 470 on Long Island.

The No. 2 EV brand on Long Island is Toyota, which makes popular plug-in hybrids that combine the best of EVs and gas-powered cars, the group found. Toyotas numbered 5,716, mostly in the Prius Prime and RAV4 Prime models.

The coalition expects that the number of EVs on Long Island will continue to grow this year, hitting 75,000 by year's end if current trends continue, and 100,000 by next fall.

Drive Electric Long Island, which has conducted more than 100 sessions to educate EV drivers across the region, on Wednesday led two dozen EV drivers on a 6.6-mile caravan from the Tesla supercharger station in Melville to the Long Island Welcome Center on the Long Island Expressway in Dix Hills to mark the 51,000-car milestone.

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