Not that the numbers are huge - during the first half of the year 9,700 new vehicle registrations in the state were for electric cars, according to the research firm Polk. That represents 1.1 percent of all auto sales, which is actually up from all of 2012. The relative success in California isn't surprising, given the numbers of early adopters - as well the state's bent on new technology. Tesla, in particular, has gained high-end cache in parts of the Westside, with 617 of the super-racy vehicles registered during the first seven months of the year. In some cases, California is the only market where automakers sell electric vehicles. From the Detroit News:
"A lot of the manufacturers have targeted California for the launch of their electric vehicle product," said Brian Maas, president of the California dealers association, in a telephone interview. "Our consumers are cutting-edge and early adopters in this area." California residents are known for being environmentally friendly, said Anthony Pratt, Polk's vice president of forecasting for the Americas. In addition, electric vehicles are allowed to use carpool lanes in the Golden State and are eligible for state incentives on top of a federal tax credit. Adding to their attraction, electric cars are good for city driving. Charging stations are also more common in regions with high sales penetration, Pratt said. Of the more than 6,440 public electric vehicle charging stations in the U.S., nearly 1,400 are in California, according to the U.S. Energy Department.
Like electrics, sales of hybrids also are regional. One-third of new hybrid vehicles sold to consumers through June are registered in five markets: Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Washington, D.C., and Chicago, according to Polk. The first hybrids went on sale in the U.S. more than a decade ago. Hybrids now account for 7 percent of California's retail market, Maas said. The Toyota Prius is the best-selling vehicle there through the first half of 2013.