California has been called the El Dorado State, the Grape State, the Golden State, but having purchased nearly half of all plug-in cars ever sold in the U.S., you can call it The ZEV State.

Actually, with its Air Resources Board (ARB) setting Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) rules for about a quarter of the U.S. car market, it already is informally called a ZEV state, but its latest milestone highlights the fact all the more.

By this month, as we’ll detail further down in this article, the state will in all likelihood have spoken for the 200,000th plug-in electrified vehicle (PEV) in the U.S. out of the almost 425,000 purchased through February, or 47 percent of the total.

The nationwide PEV market is a small one, and numbers started trickling in as far back as 2008 with a ramp up from 2011 onward, but the epicenter of the tempest in a teapot is California which gets several plug-in cars tailor-made just for it.

Interpret this data point as you will – either to California’s credit, or the rest of the country’s (not) credit or in some other way – but if the U.S. had purchased PEVs at the rate that California has, it would be seriously ahead in the global expansion of the PEV market.

Last year the California New Car Dealer Association (CNCDA) reported 2.05 million passenger vehicles and light duty trucks registered, and of these, 62,166 were PEVs. That’s 3 percent and if that rate of acceptance were applied to the U.S. which last year bought 17.37 million passenger vehicles, more than half a million would have been the plug-in variety.


Instead, the U.S. bought 114,248 PEVs as media kept up the barrage of negative stories including how cheap gas is – not the only reason why people buy PEVs – and that they may be a taxpayer boondoggle, etc., while many sat on the fence or ignored them altogether.

Determined to make its fleet zero emission with all haste, California’s ARB however has not received the memo. Instead, it issues mandates that makes the carmakers jump through hoops.

Automakers have put into the marketplace 27 PEVs at the present and fluctuating count – 14 of which are plug-in hybrids and 13 are battery electric cars.

Many more PEVs are coming too, with California and other states following its rules a primary target, while some automakers also proffer their PEVs to the rest of the country.

About the 200k Milestone

An inquiry to the Air Resources Board revealed its latest count was only to the end of last year, and the CNCDA will not publish its Auto Outlook to confirm the count until April or May, so the estimate is only that, but believed reliable.

In 2014 California accounted for 48 percent of all PEVs purchased in the U.S., last year it accounted for 54.5 percent, and at the rate things are going it is very likely its dominance will remain or increase.

Through the end of last year, the CNCDA reported 191,650 PEV registrations meaning just 8,350 PEV sales were required to make the 200k goal.

SEE ALSO: California Plug-in Sales Led The US Last Year With Nearly Five-Times Greater Market Share

Now two-and-a-half months later, the odds are good the milestone has been crossed, and it is nearly assured to have been met by end of this month.

In the slowest PEV sales month of the year, January, the U.S. bought 6,713 PEVs which would make California’s estimated share 3,658 units. In February, 8,133 PEVs were sold nationwide, which would add 4,432, bringing a theoretical total to 199,740.

2016 Nissan Leaf

This assumes the same 54.5 percent market share carries forward, but even at 50 percent, the tally in California would be 7,423 units through end of February or 199,073, and less than 1,000 to go this month.

It’s close, but safe to say California may already have purchased its 200,00th PEV and plug-in advocates can only wish the U.S. catches up.

If the U.S. had purchased PEVs at the same rate as California, it would have crushed Barack Obama’s one-million PEV goal well before the 2015 deadline instead of accomplishing just 41 percent of it while ceding its lead to China and Europe last year.

Oh well. Eventually it will get there, right? And in no small part thanks to California, The ZEV State.

Hat tip to Mario R. Duran.