California is ground zero for electric car sales in the United States. Generous state and local incentives — including some massive rebates offered by BMW and several local utility companies — plus aggressive zero emissions policies promoted by the California Air Resources Board have led to more electric cars being sold or leased in California than any other US state.
Not only that, but Silicon Valley, America’s high tech nirvana, is located there. So is Tesla, the upstart electric car manufacturer that is leading the world to a heightened awareness of the benefits driving an electric car can bring. There may be lots of other companies jumping on the electric car band wagon, but it is Tesla that is the engine pushing it forward.
For the past several years, the Tesla Model S sedan has been the best selling electric car in the Golden State. But it has now been shouldered aside by the Chevy Bolt, a car that probably would not exist at all were it not for the effervescent Elon Musk and the company he leads. New sales data supplied by the California New Car Dealers Association and Auto Outlook, Inc. shows that the 13,487 Chevy Bolts were registered in California last year, making it the best selling EV in the state.
Some might complain that the numbers are skewed a bit because they count the Model S and Model X separately. If combined, they would account for a total of 18,723 new vehicles registered. But on a model by model basis, the Bolt is the new sales champion. The accompanying chart supplied by Inside EVs tells the whole story. Notice that sales of the Nissan LEAF, which is pending the arrival of an all new model, were especially dismal last year.
Looking at the overall picture, sales of electric and plug-in hybrid cars showed a healthy increase in 2017 compared to the prior year. Battery electric car sales were up 30.4% for a 2.5% market share. Plug-ins moved up 29.5% for a 2.2% market share. Combined, they accounted for 4.7% of all cars sold in California, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Conventional hybrids added another 4.6%, giving cars with alternative powertrains nearly 10% of the new car market in California last year.
That’s wonderful news, but no reason to become complacent. Pickup trucks were the best selling vehicles in the state in 2017. The EV revolution has a long way to go yet.
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