CA Will Lead U.S. Electric Car Sales Until 2020, Report Predicts

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ECOtality Blink charging station for electric & plug-in cars

ECOtality Blink charging station for electric & plug-in cars

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Home to automakers like Tesla Motors and Fisker Automotive, California has been at the heart of every launch of every major plug-in car to go on sale to date. 

That’s because of the state’s generous incentives and support of plug-in cars, combined with tough air quality legislation requiring automakers to produce a certain number of zero-emissions cars in order to legally sell cars there. 

It’s no surprise then, that California, where households with plug-in cars already use them as their primary vehicle, is predicted to remain the leader in U.S. electric car sales until at least 2020, accounting for one in every four plug-in cars sold in the U.S

The prediction, courtesy of Pike Research’s Electric Vehicle Geographic Forecasts, paints a future where the combined electric vehicle sales in cities like San Francisco, Oakland, Fremont, Los Angeles, Long Beach and Santa Ana will account for 4.5 percent of all new light-duty vehicle registrations in the state. 

2012 Toyota RAV4 EV, Newport Beach, California, July 2012

2012 Toyota RAV4 EV, Newport Beach, California, July 2012

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At the moment, plug-in vehicle sales across the U.S. account for less than 1 percent of total car sales. By 2020, the report says 2.1 percent of total U.S. light duty vehicle sales will be plug-in electric vehicles.

Pikes Research predicts the Greater New York City area will come in second place, with around 3.5 percent of all new light-duty vehicle sales in 2020 being plug-in vehicles. 

With attitudes already positive towards plug-in vehicles in these two areas, the report predicts a compound average growth rate in plug-in sales of between 29 and 33 percent over the next eight years. 

Other cities with already existing plug-in car acceptance, will undoubtedly also increase sales of plug-in cars up to and including 2020.

But in areas of the country where journeys are longer, and attitudes towards plug-in cars may not be as accepting, plug-in car sales are likely to remain much lower for several years to come. 


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Comments (18)
  1. Are they only projecting to 2020 because most of CA will then be under water?

    As the most populous and progressive state in the US, short of a huge disaster, it will always be in the lead...

  2. "most of CA will then be under water"?

    how is that possible with the coastal mountain range, Sierra Nevada, Trinity Mountain range and Cascade mountain range?

    Don't forget that tallest mountain in the lower 48 states are in California.

  3. You must have not seen the movie "2012" then... Those mountains are just the fully loaded mudslides waiting to happen :-)

  4. hahah. But in that movie, most of the world are under water too... :)

  5. You left out their 16 billion deficit and Govenor "Moon Beam". If this is the "lead" I am happy I live in the back!

  6. First of all, I am against many of the Governmnet spending in CA, especially on their Pension abuse. Second of all, it has NOTHING to do with the topic. Third, I didn't vote for the Governor. But I would like to point out that (especially to the Fox News watchers) in the US, the executive branch does NOT control budget, the legislative branch do. So, if you want to blame, blame it on the CA State Legislature...

    Do you actually make any comments relate to the topic/article or just like to spread your "political views" on just about every topic that you comment on?

  7. First the comment was for @Jan and he pointed out that California is always in the lead. Second I was giving a different point of view which is what this website is about. I was pleasantly surprised to your answer but I was not blaming anyone.

  8. Thanks for the comment, Pat. It will always be in the lead as far as the car (especially green) sales go. It was rather clear what I meant - the rest is open to interpretation.

    If you want to talk about deficits and state contributions then CA is basically 10% of our economy. It gives more than it takes contributing to its deficits. It's tough to handle healthcare and education in places where mass immigration got out of control. Most of the southern red states (the bottom half in wealth) are gov't leeches on paper - coming to the feds for more than they give out - simple math, yet they still run the deficits themselves including people who are poor and who want to cancel the programs they so much rely on. From backwards GA with love :-)

  9. California's debt as percentage of GDP is far lower than many states and many EU nations...

    And Jan Durzynski is right that CA contributes FAR MORE to the Federal Budget than it receives in terms of Federal subsidies and grant. So, in terms of overall picture, California, as a state is a "giver". The last time I looked the great "conservative" state Texas had a budget shortfall over $10Billion as well.

    California is especially "leading" in terms of car sales, green car sales and EV sales. It is also leader in technology companies and many of its universities. Its "GDP" is large enough to be in the top 10 nations of the world so it will naturally lead in many things...

  10. @Jan and Li: Great job both of you! The problem is when you do GDP per Capita, Texas's is larger than Cal. It's Local and County spending is less and so are their deficits. Also they cut 27 billion from their budget (2 years) balancing it, instead of electing a "Moonbeam" Governor.

  11. There are more comments in this thread
  12. @Pat Butler,

    Hey, did you lie again? I checked your statement that "Texas has higher GDP per capita". That is NOT true. Just about every source of information has shown that California's GDP per capita is higher than Texas's since 2003...

    Show me your links please... Or I call you a "Fox News" lier again.

  13. @Xialong, @Pat: This is your friendly site moderator. Just a friendly reminder to keep the discussion to the facts of the case--we're all for data and links--and avoid saying rude things about other commenters.

    In other words, we'd prefer this wording: "I don't believe what you said is correct, and here's the link that disproves it" over this wording: "You're a liar."

    We encourage robust debate on all the topics we cover. Politely! Make sense?

  14. @john: Thank for your comments but if you look I have never called anybody a liar. Tell Mr. Li the link is "", again thanks for your comments.

  15. Thanks to LA Basin and SF Bay Area...

  16. NYC 2ND eh?? we c about that

  17. NYC has a lot of population.

    I know that Seattle-Tacoma area is very high tech, progressive and green minded... But it is a good race. :)

  18. "But in areas of the country where journeys are longer, and attitudes towards plug-in cars may not be as accepting, plug-in car sales are likely to remain much lower for several years to come."
    I think that is all price driven. EREV vehicles such as Volt is perfectly fine for those remote locations as long as the cost of those vehicles are competitive against non-plugin vehicles in initial purchase price.
    You will be surprised to see how many wind farms there are in the middle of nowhere IL, Iowa and some parts of the "corn states"...

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