California Expected To Account For 25% Of U.S. EV Sales

Who loves you, electric vehicles? California loves you, that’s who.

The Golden State, with 12 percent of the nation’s population, will account for nearly a quarter of all electric vehicle sales between now and 2020, according to a new report, which says nationwide sales of the plug-ins will hit about 400,000 by the end of the decade.

california electric vehicles

Lauren De Long, with a Roadster. (image via Plug In America)

Pike Research said Los Angeles/Long Beach, the San Francisco Bay Area, San Jose/Santa Clara, and the Sacramento area will be four of the 10 top markets for EVs. California offers lots of information and strong incentives for people to buy electrics, but there is also a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy to the vehicles’ popularity in California: Because the state is seen as a good market for EVs, manufacturers immediately roll out new models in the state.

“As manufacturers launch new PEV models, the vehicles are not expected to be available equally in all areas, as original equipment manufacturers thus far have made vehicles available initially and in greater numbers in what they view as key markets before moving to nationwide rollouts,” Pike wrote in a statement promoting the report.

Other big markets for electric vehicles during the remainder of the decade: New York, Florida, Texas and Washington.

Hawaii is too small a market to crack that list, but it will actually have the highest penetration rate for plug-in electrics, Pike said. The vehicles can be attractive to islands residents who face higher gas prices than mainlanders, and whose trips are of course generally of short range. The state also offers strong incentives.

Pike said it came up with the projections by analyzing OEM vehicle rollout schedules, population and demographic trends in comparison to early PEV and HEV owner demographic profiles, and survey data on attitudes toward electric vehicles.

In addition to the U.S. projections, Pike also looked at the prospects for EVs in Canada. There, it found that by 2020, 97 percent of EV sales will come in three provinces – Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia – that account for 75 percent of the nation’s population.

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.

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