The ease of buying an electric car has long depended on where in the U.S. you live.

Carmakers carefully consider demand and local incentives and regulations before offering their products in some states--often resulting in California and Oregon getting the latest vehicles before anyone else.

Washington State should be among those, having adopted California's CARB emissions rules.

But unfortunately for Washington electric car fans, the state hasn't adoped the zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) regulations found in California and Oregon, among others--making the choice of available electric cars lower than it could be.

As Edmunds reports, other states set to adopt the ZEV mandate include Connecticut, D.C., Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont. Washington is unusual in having accepted California's clean air vehicle requirements, but not the ZEV mandate.

It's the compliance cars that WA residents will most miss out on.

These cars, designed mainly to meet CARB ZEV regulations and therefore sold in numbers only great enough to meet the requirements, are only sold in CARB-adopting states.

Californians and Oregonians get to enjoy such vehicles as the Honda Fit EV, Fiat 500E, and Toyota RAV4 EV. Chevrolet insists that its recently-unveiled Spark EV isn't a compliance car, but initially it will only be available in a select few states. Ford's Focus EV is another available in a select few states, but that's set to expand in 2013.

These cars can be sold in any ZEV-compliant zone, while contributing to California's requirements.

And states that don't accept these requirements give the carmakers no incentive to sell compliant cars there. Fiat has already said it will lose money on every 500e sold--so it has no intention to sell more than the bare minimum, and certainly not to states that don't require the car through legislation.

Washington has proven itself as quite EV-friendly, with an all-electric taxi firm, and even a scenic route with charging stations, encouraging electric car drivers to explore.

But when it comes to cars, the state's EV fans will have to make do with a smaller selection than their counterparts to the south.

(Hat tip: Brian Henderson)


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