California’s Electric Car Total Goes Over 100,000 Cars, Proves There’s a Market for Plug-ins

Here at Transport Evolved, we’re often told by plug-in skeptics that electric vehicles will never catch on or sell in large numbers.

Now we’ve got proof to politely disagree: the number of electric and plug-in hybrid cars on the roads of California have hit 100,000 for the first time in electric car history, a milestone reached just before the 2014 Drive Electric week gets underway.

The Chevrolet Volt is one of the many plug-in hybrids and range-extended EVs eligible to wear a Green HOV-lane access decal in California.

The Chevrolet Volt is one of the many plug-in hybrids and range-extended EVs eligible to wear a Green HOV-lane access decal in California.

As our friends over at GreenCarReports detail, the milestone was reached some time in the past few weeks, according to the California Plug-in Electric Vehicle Collaborative, which has been compiling sales totals dating back to 2010 when the first 2011 Nissan LEAF and 2011 Chevrolet Volt were delivered.

The 100,000 milestone not only bears testament to the growing popularity of electric cars across the U.S., but also to California’s pro electric car incentive program. As with the rest of the U.S., those who buy a plug-in car in the state of California can apply for up to $7,500 in Federal tax credits to offset the higher purchase price compared to gasoline vehicles. In California however, additional purchase incentives — available in the form of up to $2,500 in purchase rebates — further lower the effective cost of switching to a plug-in car.

In addition, those with full-electric cars can apply for one of the unlimited-in-number white HOV-lane access stickers, giving them single occupant access to California’s many miles of high-occupancy or carpool lanes. Those with eligible plug-in hybrids can apply for one of a limited-in-number green HOV-lane sticker, which grants them similar privileges.

Strong sales of cars like the Nissan LEAF mean there are now more than 100,000 cars on the roads of California

Strong sales of cars like the Nissan LEAF mean there are now more than 100,000 cars on the roads of California

Add to this California’s Zero Emissions Vehicle mandate — which requires all automakers who sell within the state to produce a specific percentage of zero emissions vehicles in order to sell there — and California has the most diverse plug-in vehicle market of any U.S. state. This means there’s more likely to be a plug-in vehicle which suits your needs exactly, rather than having to make a compromise and chose between practicality and environmental responsibility.

California’s milestone means the state now accounts for around 40 percent of total U.S. plug-in vehicle sales, but given California’s high population, that’s hardly surprising. (To find the state with the highest number of electric vehicles per capita, you need to head north to Washington, where around 1.6 percent of all new cars are electric. )

Californian Governor Jerry Brown

Californian Governor Jerry Brown wants 1.5 million electric cars on the roads of California by 2025.

That said however, California’s 100,000 vehicle achievement means that the state is well on track to achieving the 1.5 million electric vehicle sales target set by Governor Jerry Brown for 2025.  Combine this with recently-passed legislation aimed to make it easier for low-income families to get behind the wheel of a plug-in vehicle, and California’s plug-in vehicle totals can only go one way: upwards.

Congratulations, California — and here’s hoping other states follow your lead.

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