Many EVs are sold in select regions even as appeal extends across party lines
March’s electric vehicle (EV) sales numbers were strong against a backdrop of growing conservative support for EVs. Earlier this month
, Fox News television host Bill O’Reilly endorsed Tesla Motors, following a positive segment that examined the company and its CEO, Elon Musk, on the CBS program “60 Minutes.” On his show, “The O’Reilly Factor,”—the most watched cable news program—Mr. O’Reilly encouraged Americans to buy electric as a way to “get away from OPEC and Putin,” or in other words, strengthen American energy security.
Meanwhile, as the national media debated the benefits and strengthened its support for EVs, consumers showed their own support for EVs, as monthly sales grew to their fourth highest yet—with a total of 9,172 total units sold. EV frontrunners continued to lead the pack in terms of monthly sales. The Nissan Leaf finished March on a strong trajectory, earning 27 percent of total sales for all-electric vehicles.
Some more highlights:
Opportunities for Growth
- The Nissan Leaf was only 22 vehicles shy of matching its all-time monthly sales record that it set in December 2013.
- The Toyota Plug-in Prius, a budding challenger in the plug-in category, increased its monthly sales by 40 percent compared to March 2013.
- There was a 13 percent increase in total EV sales, and 37 percent increase in EV sales over March of last year.
Many EVs are only sold regionally. On the demand side, several states incentivize consumers with tax credits. Automakers, meanwhile, respond to federal fuel economy standards, as well as state requirements, such as California’s zero emissions mandate, and in such cases, the automakers only sell certain vehicles into those particular markets. Examples include the Fiat 500e, which sold 166 vehicles last month, and Toyota’s RAV4 EV, which sold 73 vehicles; both are exclusively available in California.
Research into the regional availability of these select models reveals that several EVs have not been on the market for very long. The Fiat has sold 405 of its 500e in just eight months and the RAV4 EV has sold 1452 vehicles over only two years. Again, all in California.
To demonstrate the importance of a consumer’s state of residence to an EV automaker. Toyota offers its prospective auto buyers an online “compatibility quiz.”
The quiz allows drivers to assess whether or not an electric vehicle would fit their lifestyles. Among the factors: daily driving distance; length of commute; and availability of home charging. But the most important factor? California residency.
Regardless of whether or not you are the optimal EV owner, it seems that according to Toyota,, a consumer’s location trumps his or her attitudes or behaviors.
There were 96,000 EVs sold in the United States last year, up from 53,000 in 2012. As the market for EVs grows, so must automakers’ commitment to market and brand vehicles for mass consumption. Conservatives’ recent embrace of EVs, especially to reduce U.S. oil consumption and improve national security, demonstrates that electrification is cutting across partisan lines, and thus, it has the potential to cut across state borders too.
There remains a lot of work to do, as recent studies show that Americans need more familiarity with the technology. One public opinion study published by market research giant GfK reveal
s that 36 percent of Americans hold a “very or mainly favorable opinion” of electric vehicles. Further, only 32 percent say they know a “fair amount or know [about EVs] very well.”
With 45 percent of Americans “somewhat and very open” to the idea of driving an electric vehicle, it is time for more automakers to capitalize on the growing support for EVs and fully invest in this thriving market.