California to Dominate US Electric Vehicle Sales Through 2020

California car buyers will account for 25% of plug-in and pure electric vehicles (EVs) sold in the US for the rest of decade, says Pike Research.

That’s because the state is home to four of the top 10 metropolitan areas supportive of EVs: Los Angeles/Long Beach; San Francisco Bay Area; San Jose/Santa Clara; and Sacramento.

California’s population demographics and income levels, favorable attitudes toward renewable energy, supportive public policies and incentives, and geographic characteristics are the primary factors behind the prediction, says Pike.

Overall, they expect sales of EVs in the US to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 30% from 2012-2020, to about 400,000 vehicles, or 2.1% of all vehicle sales.

As a proportion of total car sales, Pike expects EVs to penetrate 4.5% of the market in California, 3.5% in NY, 1.9% in Florida and 1.4% in Texas.

Although the totals are lower, EVs will reach a 12.3% penetration rate in Hawaii, because of high gasoline prices there and the short distances typically driven, says Pike.

Because of their demographics, other US metropolitan areas that are ripe for PEV sales include: 

  • Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, Pennsylvania
  • Worcester, Massachusetts
  • Denver-Aurora-Bloomfield, Colorado
  • Colorado Springs, Colorado

But in 2020, the sales volume will be highest in New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and Portland, Oregon, accounting for 27% of all US sales.

California EV Drivers Love Their Cars

Currently, there are more than 12,000 EVs in Caifornia – about 35% of all EVs sold across the US, reports the California Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE).

CCSE’s survey of over 1,400 EV drivers in the state show that most of them drive an average of 26 miles daily and about two-thirds of their battery charging activity takes place at night.

Another compelling statistic: about 39% of the respondents use home solar to help charge their vehicles, and another 31% are considering an installation within the next year.

Other survey highlights:

  • 85% of owners use their EV as their primary car, driving an average of 802 electricity-fueled miles per month
  • In San Diego, EV owners pay the equivalent of just $0.90 to $1.90 per gallon of gasoline to power their electric vehicles 
  • 71% of EV owners report having access to either public or workplace charging infrastructure.
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