Top 10 electric car "states" are...

Nissan Leaf Silver
CC BY-SA 3.0 Zachary Shahan

I love rankings of many sorts, but I have to admit that I'm not a huge fan of absolute rankings when relative rankings would tell us much more about who the true leaders are. For example, a ranking of "top electric car states" should rank the states by the percentage of car sales that were electric car sales, rather than simply ranking them based on total electric car sales. A relative ranking like this can lead us to state electric car policies that could be adopted in other places in order to help quicken the electric vehicle revolution. Luckily, some thinkin' folk over at Edmunds recently created just such a ranking!

How does your state fare? And how many of the top 10 "states" (they include Washington, DC) can you name before looking? If you can name 5 or more, I'll buy you lunch! (Of course, you also have to come visit me in Wrocław for that.)

Without further ado, rounded to the nearest tenth of a percent, here are the top 10:

Interestingly, California doesn't come out on top. My understanding is that it did for years, but this data is for January 2013 through November 2013, and Washington and Hawaii have apparently now inched ahead.

Of course, incentives have a huge influence on this ranking. Here are some of the key electric car incentives in each of these top 10 states (plus DC):

    1. Washington – Electric cars exempt from state motor vehicle sales and use taxes; electric car demonstration grants.

    2. Hawaii – HOV lane exemption; parking fee exemption.

    3. California – HOV lane exemption; rebate of up to $2,500; rebate of up to $3,000 in the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District; insurance discounts; free parking in some cities.

    4. Georgia – HOV lane exemption; tax credit up to $5,000

    5. Oregon – tax credit up to $1,500

    6. District of Columbia – exemption from excise tax imposed on an original certificate of title.

    7. Utah – HOV lane exemption; free parking in Salt Lake City.

    8. Colorado – grants to support PEV adoption in fleets ("RAQC grants cover 80 percent of the incremental cost of a qualified PEV, up to $8,260. Both CEO and RAQC grants fund 80 percent of the cost of EVSE, up to $6,260."); income tax credit up to up to $6,000.

    9. Tennessee – HOV lane exemption.

    10. Illinois – rebate up to $4,000; "Car sharing organizations located and operating in Illinois may be eligible for grants of up to 25 percent of qualifying project costs, including the cost of purchasing new PEV and building charging infrastructure."

Based on a skim of these incentives, and based on research I've seen on why Norway's electric car sales now represent a whopping 12% of total car sales (with just a few electric models on the market), HOV lane access is huge for encouraging electric car adoption at this stage. Clearly, rebates or tax credits worth several thousand dollars also help. And exclusion from certain taxes as well as parking fees have also consistently shown up as helpful incentives.

However, even without all of these incentives (but including the $7,500 federal EV tax credit), based on numerous analyses I've run, a large number of drivers in any state would benefit financially from switching to an electric car. Many people still aren't aware of this, and the higher upfront cost of electric cars scares many people away, but if you do a little math, electric cars are often cheaper than their gas siblings within 2 to 5 years. You can view key assumptions and figures you'd need for such a comparison here. And be sure to hit me up in the comments or on your favorite social media site (Google+, Twitter, Facebook, etc) if you want some help with that.

Tags: California | Colorado | Electric Cars | Electric Vehicles | Georgia USA | Hawaii | Illinois | Oregon | Tennessee | Utah | Washington DC

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