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

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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