Plug-in EV Sales To Spike; 25 Percent Will Be In California

In its study on where electric vehicles will be popular up ‘till 2020, Pike Research concluded total North American sales will crest 400,000 annually, and to the surprise of no one, California will continue to lead the way.

While the world is still waiting to see whether President Obama’s – optimistic and unlikely – forecast of 1 million plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) will be on American roads by 2015, Pike’s projected ramp up is nonetheless steep, and 1 million PEVs will be here not many years after, if not by 2015.

Consider that in the inaugural year of 2011, the four limited availability plug-in vehicles tracked by the HybridCars.com Dashboard amounted to just 17,813 units. So, to see 400,000 PEVs being sold per year will be quite a feat. In fact, it will significantly surpass last year’s far more developed hybrid market, which saw 268,807 vehicles sold in 2011 – assuming the Pike estimate is not also optimistic.

Time will tell on that question, but for its part Pike concludes that between 2012 and 2020 nearly one in every four PEV sold in the United States will be sold in California.

The likelihood that a North American consumer will choose to buy a PEV is based on a variety of factors: age, race, gender, income, attitudes toward renewable energy, and so on.

One other factor serves as an important indicator: geography, i.e. in which state or province and in which city the person lives.

According to the report from Pike Research, the state with the highest PEV sales over the remainder of this decade will be California, followed by New York, Florida, Texas, and Washington.

“PEV sales roughly correspond to population, but other factors, including demographics, socioeconomics, and public policy, have a strong influence as well,” says senior research analyst Dave Hurst. “Florida, for example, the third largest market for PEVs, has 60 percent of the population of California, but by 2020 Florida will have only 25 percent the number of PEVs found in California.”

The actual number of PEVs forecast by 2020 is 400,073 annual sales in the United States and 107,146 in Canada, but the finer point of the story of these sales is in the cities and utility service territories where the vehicles will be located.

The state with the highest penetration rate of PEVs, as a percentage of total light-duty vehicle sales, will be Hawaii, where fuel costs are high and average distances driven are relatively short, according to the report.

In addition, as manufacturers launch new PEV models, the vehicles are not expected to be available equally in all areas, as original equipment manufacturers thus far have made vehicles available initially and in greater numbers in what they view as key markets before moving to nationwide rollouts.

California, the focus of both strong green vehicle policies and accelerated manufacturer rollouts, will have four of the top ten metropolitan areas for PEV sales: Los Angeles/Long Beach, the San Francisco Bay Area, San Jose/Santa Clara, and the Sacramento area.

In Canada, the provinces of Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia, which account for 75% of the Canadian population, will represent 97% of Canadian PEV sales by 2020. Toronto and Montreal will lead Canadian PEV sales.

The report, “Electric Vehicle Geographic Forecasts”, provides data and forecasts for the plug-in electric vehicle market for U.S. states and metropolitan statistical areas as well as Canadian provinces and cities.

The report also includes forecasts for PEV sales across selected electric utility service territories. The data includes sales forecasts from 2012 to 2020 at each geographic level as well as analysis of major trends in the forecasts.


  • Van

    Two variables suggest predictions have a wide margin of error. Will a future second generation battery be a game changer, like the purported 400 wh/kg $125/kwh battery? Second, will the middle east spin out of control, resulting in a loss of their oil to North America?

    In March 2013, Ford will bring to market a good looking plug-in for probably less than $35,000. So I expect the combined C-Max and Fusion Energi models to double the plug in dashboard, i.e. 35,000 units vice 17,000.