Where Do Hybrid, Electric Cars Sell Best? We Find Out

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2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid, production model

2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid, production model

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While hybrid and electric cars are becoming more popular throughout the U.S., it isn’t a secret that buyers in some areas are more keen to buy a hybrid or electric car than others. 

Now NPR has published an interactive map detailing just where electric and hybrid cars have proved popular this year, and which states have yet to embrace both technologies.

Using sales data from Edmunds.com, NPR’s Sara Carothers and Alyson Hurt produced as part of a mini series looking into the recent regulations mandating all automakers meet a fleet-wide Corporate Average Fuel Economy of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025

San Francisco leads

Unsurprisingly, the San Francisco Bay tops electric and hybrid car sales lists for the year, with 8.4 percent of all vehicles being sold comprising of either hybrid or electric cars.  In real world figures, that equates to 26,718 new hybrid or electric cars being sold in the San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose area in one year. 

First 2011 Nissan Leaf delivered to buyer, San Francisco, Dec 2010, photo by Eugene Lee

First 2011 Nissan Leaf delivered to buyer, San Francisco, Dec 2010, photo by Eugene Lee

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A little further south in Monterey and Salinas -- where the city unwisely invested $500,000 in electric vehicle startup Green Vehicles only to see the firm declare bankruptcy  -- sales are equally impressive, with 6.9 percent of all cars being sold in the area comprising of electric or hybrid vehicles. 

Pacific Coast strong

Although San Francisco leads electric and hybrid car sales -- no doubt thanks to various incentives available to assist in purchase of cleaner vehicles -- the entire Pacific coastal region is a stronghold for hybrid and electric cars. 

Interestingly, the map focuses on the percentage of total car sales comprising hybrid or electric cars rather than the total number of sales. As a consequence, smaller cities like Eugene, Oregon outperform larger cities like Phoenix, Arizona since the number of hybrid and electric cars sold in Eugene is a higher percentage of total car sales than those in Phoenix. 

East coast well represented, midwest growing

The eastern sea board is also well represented when it comes to hybrid and electric car sales, although not as strongly as the west coast. 

The midwest is also well represented, with hybrid and electric cars proving reasonably popular in areas with 2 to 4 percent of car buyers in cities like Chicago, Minneapolis and Kansas City choosing a hybrid or electric car. 

Is Wyoming the antithesis of California?

We’re not sure if it’s because there’s a lack of data for Wyoming or if high mileage cars aren’t popular there, but the NPR map has no data on hybrid and electric car sales for that state. As a consequence, we can only assume that it is the state you’re least likely to see a hybrid or electric car in.  


Correlations between high population, high gas prices

As you might expect, the NPR map shows a high correlation between areas of high population and a high percentage of electric and hybrid car sales. The data also corresponds nicely to areas where gasoline is at its highest. 

What do you make of the NPR map? Do you think it’s a fair representation of electric and hybrid vehicle popularity in the U.S.? Do you feel your local area is incorrectly represented by the data? 

Let us know in the Comments below. 



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Comments (6)
  1. Well to purchase one of these cars you need a large amount of discressional income. They also tend to be liberal and concerened about "Global Warming"

  2. Or, alternatively, conservative and concerned about "Energy Security"

  3. they have leases that are even lower than owning. Since these are high tech and improvements are added each year along with lower prices and better range it's the one place a lease is better. Check them out, it pays off!

  4. It's a little early for a map like that, don't you think, since electric and hybrids were only delivered and sold in four or five states. It seems like everywhere the cars are delivered they sells like hot cakes with fresh churned butter over them.

    I think that once several different brand named electrics are delivered to all the states, they will greatly outsell the hybrids.

    I'm not the only one with this thought in mind, "I don't ever want to or have to stop at another gas station for the rest of my life." It is a new century, so let's do things differently this time and get completely away from fossil fuel. Start mass producing those electric cars and get them on the market in every state.

  5. i DEFINITELY feel that my area is misrepresented. Olympia is frequently batched in the the Seattle/Tacoma area and due to the HUGE population disparity, our percentage of hybrid/EV ownership is not accurate. if broken down by actual city regions, we would be much farther ahead of Seattle.

    WA State has mandated that all State Fleets use alternative Fuel vehicles wherever they can fill the need. We have state agencies based in Olympia that have literally hundreds of Priuses. This exposure to hybrid technology has greatly influenced State workers when considering their own personal transportation options. Since most live in the Thurston County area, i feel that Olympia's percentages are higher.

  6. Re Wyoming, in my one-and-only experience with a hybrid, I found the savings tremendous in city driving and negligible on the highway. Little if any city driving is done in Wyoming...

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