EV Early Adopters: Hybrid-Heavy Cities to Lead the Way

Nissan Leaf EV

In the recent State of the Union address, President Obama set out a goal to put one million electric vehicles on the road by 2015. According to a study from Pike Research (PDF), many of those EVs will end up in the New York City and Los Angeles metropolitan areas—at least at first.

New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Philadelphia, and Houston are all expected to have higher than average electric vehicle sales over the next six years. There are a number of factors contributing to Pike's predictions: population density and demographics (how many people already own hybrids in the region), plug-in electric vehicle attitude, and manufacturer vehicle rollout schedule.

In many cases, manufacturers are rolling out EVs on a staggered basis, with cities like New York and L.A. getting the cars first because of a greater perceived interest. It makes sense, then, that these cities will have more EVs during the early years of adoption. According to Pike, New York and California will have the most access to EVs over the coming decade—so by 2017, EVs will make up 5.4% of new vehicle sales in California and 3.7% of sales in New York.

Pike EV adoption forecast chart

Pike's predictions don't directly take into account commuting style or access to plug-in charging stations, but it stands to reason that charge-spot manufacturers will focus their energies on areas with the most predicted EV customers.

Whether customers continue to purchase EVs in these supposed electric hot spots will depend on whether utilities can handle the strain on the grid. If Pike is correct, DTE Energy, Southern California Edison, and Duke Energy had all better get ready for an influx of demand from EV owners.

Follow Fast Company on Twitter. Ariel Schwartz can be reached by email.

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