The Nissan Leaf was the best selling plug-in car in July and has just lost the lead for the year-to-date electric car sales to the hot-selling Tesla Model S, another pure electric. It’s fair to say that where the Leaf is selling well, electric cars are selling well. So, when Nissan shared a list of the top cities for Leaf sales, you can bet that’s where you’ll find Teslas – and Ford Focus Electrics, Mitsubishi i-MiEVs, Fiat 500es, BMW Active-Es, Chevy Spark EVs, Smart EDs, Toyota RAV4 EVs, Honda Fit EVs – and all of the EVs coming on the market in the next couple years.
Not coincidentally, this is also where the EV charging infrastructure is being developed the fastest. In fact, in many parts of California, the popularity of electric cars has so far outstripped the ability of the charging infrastructure to keep up with it.
Empirically, this is true, skewed somewhat by the fact that several manufacturers are limiting the availability of their electric cars to states following California’s Zero Emission Vehicle Mandate, which places the majority of them in California. That explains why four of the top sales cities for electric vehicles are in the Golden State. What is interesting is that no cities show up from the so-called Section 177 states that follow California’s ZEV mandate.
Beyond four cities in California, the other cities for top electric car sales are ones with either a strong environmental focus (like Seattle, Portland and Honolulu) or ties to manufacturers (like Nashville, where the Nissan Leaf is now manufactured) or having strong local incentives (Atlanta and St. Louis). Here’s the list:
- San Francisco
- Los Angeles
- San Diego
- St. Louis
We suspect that the four California cities would be in the Top 10 for most electric car sales. The recent prices wars for EVs have focused on California and some manufactures (such as Fiat and Honda) have already announced their limited production runs are already sold out, which should add to the burgeoning electric car population in the state. California benefits from the manufacturers’ discounted prices, strong (though shrinking) state financial incentives and the powerful access to the HOV (high-occupancy vehicle) lane with a single driver. The value of the latter incentive is strong, as seen in other cities as well, but in California it has been cited historically as worth as much as $2,000 on the price of a vehicle (the citation was from the time was HOV lane access stickers were sold out for hybrids such as the Toyota Prius). A similar time could come for electric cars as the market expands, but that could take several years at current sales rates.
Other cities bubbling under the Top 10, according to Nissan, are Chicago, Denver, Washington DC, Dallas-Ft. Worth and New York City. None of these are surprises since they are some of the more populous cities in the country and all tend to have good incentives for electric cars.
For more reading on this subject, check out:
How To Find the Best Price for an Electric Car
Top 10 Best-Selling High-MPG Cars for Jan-June 2013
Top 10 Electric Cars You Can Buy Today