Study Shows Why Californian Cities Leads US Electric Car Sales

An interesting analysis of the California electric vehicle market was recently published by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), providing a nice overview of the effects of various policies and promotional activities in effect there through 2015, as well as lessons for other locations/jurisdictions.

The analysis is based around city-level data on electric vehicles for 30 different cities, including adoption rates, public charging infrastructure availability, model availability, promotional efforts, incentives, etc.

The graph and chart below show exactly why such an analysis could be illuminating — electric vehicle (EV) adoption rates in many Californian cities are much higher than elsewhere in the country, and California as a whole is home to about half of all US EV sales.

ev-sales-models-california-usa ev-sales-california-usa


The executive summary for the analysis provides more: “As shown, there are 30 California cities with from 6% to 18% electric vehicle share of new vehicle sales. This amounts to 8 to 25 times that of the US average in 2015. These vehicle markets range greatly in size, from hundreds of electric vehicle sales up to approximately 4,000 in the case of San Jose. These cities tended to have about 20 electric vehicle models locally available over 2015, far more than generally is the case across other US cities, as well as other California cities.”

ev-charging-california-usa ev-share-ev-actions-california-cities

In addition to the aforementioned factors (infrastructure, incentives, availability, promotional efforts, etc.), it’s clear that median income levels play a part as well — not surprising considering the relatively high cost of current electric vehicle models.

Interestingly, though, “some factors we examined (California Clean Vehicle Rebate claim rate and the prevalence of single-family homes) were not linked with electric vehicle uptake. Furthermore, other factors for which data was not available (such as the income of electric vehicle purchasers specifically, rather than city-level median income) or that cannot be quantified (such as cultural differences between cities) could be influencing electric vehicle uptake in these cities.”


There were 3 primary conclusions that resulted from the analysis, according to those involved:

  • “Comprehensive policy support is helping support the electric vehicle market. Consumers in California benefit from federal and state electric vehicle incentives, as well as from persistent local action and extensive charging infrastructure. The Zero-Emission Vehicle program has increased model availability and provided relative certainty about vehicle deployment that local stakeholders can bank on. The major metropolitan areas in California had 3 to 13 times the average US electric vehicle uptake in 2015.”
  • “Local promotion activities are encouraging the electric vehicle market. The 30 cities in California with the highest electric vehicle uptake — with 8 to 25 times the US electric vehicle uptake — have seen the implementation of abundant, wide-ranging electric vehicle promotion programs involving parking, permitting, fleets, utilities, education, and workplace charging. These cities tend to be smaller, but Oakland and San Jose are also within the high electric vehicle uptake cities. There were twelve cities with electric vehicle market shares of new vehicles from 10% to 18% in 2015 including Berkeley, Manhattan Beach, and many throughout Silicon Valley.”
  • “The electric vehicle market grows with its charging infrastructure. The 30 California cities with the highest electric vehicle uptake have, on average, 5 times the public charging infrastructure per capita than the US average. In addition, workplace charging availability in the San Jose metropolitan area is far higher than elsewhere. Increasingly, major public electric power utilities and workplaces are expanding the public charging network to further address consumer confidence and convenience.”

Interesting, though not surprising, findings.

Via CleanTechnica

3 thoughts on “Study Shows Why Californian Cities Leads US Electric Car Sales

  1. Per capita charger count may not reflect adoption rate as well as geographic locations. While San Diego shows more per captia chargers than Los Angeles, one can drive clear across LA county well into all neighboring counties with DCFC (I-10, I-5, etc). San Diego can barely escape the city as the chargers are located only along small area (primarily I5), and impossible to go most places in the county, let alone neighboring counties.

    Of course, that’s with 80 miles range EV. But even with Bolt, many places in east San Diego will be out of reach.

  2. Their mild climate helps. So do the incentives they have. Another important fact is their Clean Car policy that 14 other states have adopted but only Arizona has dropped it. I live in AZ and they don’t use the Clean Car policy, they don’t allow Tesla direct sales and utilities actually charge customers extra if they have Solar PV. Gee I wonder if that is why the Tesla Giga Factory located in Nevada instead of Arizona. That’s a loss of 10,000 jobs but we do have our Brown Cloud from car pollution.

  3. Great analysis, but think that the third conclusion should be first: Ultra-fast chargers (those charging your car to 80% in less than 20-30 minutes), well-placed (in 50 miles steps on highways in all directions), are absolutely key to EV adoption, specially for smaller EV cars. 50+ Amps CHAdeMO/CSS allowing 100 miles/30 minutes charge should be deployed with priority over type 2 charging stations.

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