West Coast Cities Lead Nation In Hybrid, EV Registrations In 2012

It wouldn’t surprise most people that the San Francisco and Los Angeles areas are hotbeds for selling hybrid and electric powertrain vehicles. Now, thanks to research firm Polk, hard numbers back up that presumption.

According to Polk’s new vehicle registration data, through October 2012 one out of 10 new vehicles sold in San Francisco was a hybrid. For new EV registrations, Los Angeles and San Francisco by themselves captured a quarter of all electric vehicle sales nationally during the same time period.

Looking at what it calls Designated Market Areas (DMAs), Polk says that the 15 top markets for hybrids and EVs are located on the West Coast, with nine of the 15 areas in California. Although not directly on the coast, Tucson, Ariz., is also part of the leading DMAs.

These same 15 areas with the highest percentage of hybrid powertrains together account for almost 30 percent of all hybrid registrations nationally with 103,438 vehicles, and 41 percent of all EVs registered, for a total of 4,128 vehicles, in the U.S.

Interestingly, the 15 leading DMAs include just 12.5 percent of all new vehicle registrations nationally.

So, the vehicles being purchased in those areas aren’t many compared to the rest of the country according to Polk’s research. But a large number of those that are being purchased are hybrids and EVs, and at a rate that easily outpaces the rest of the country.

For example, while 9.4 percent of the greater San Francisco market’s new vehicles were hybrids, the rest of the U.S. – excluding the other 14 leading DMAs – totaled less than 3.0 percent hybrid vehicle registrations.

This data, notes Polk’s Tom Libby, suggests that generalizing about the U.S. new vehicle landscape based on one market area can be risky.

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