Electric Cars: California Leads Nation In Green Vehicle Consumption

According to the classic stereotype, there are two things Californians love: the environment and their cars. So it's no surprise that the state leads the nation at the point where those two interests intersect.

According to a report by automotive website, California drivers accounted for just under one-third of all electric vehicles purchased in the United States last year and about a quarter of all hybrids. Florida registered a distant second in both categories, with Sunshine State drivers purchasing 6.6 percent of all hybrids and plug-in electrics.

Another study conducted earlier this year by broke down buying habits by metro region and found that five of the top ten areas for green cars are in California. Unsurprisingly, the San Francisco Bay Area (including both Oakland and San Jose) leads the pack.

The best selling car in California is the hybrid Toyota Prius. Between January and September of of this year, 46,360 new Priuses hit California streets.

A number of likely reasons put California out in front when it comes to green vehicles in addition to the environmental factor.

As the most populous state, Californians also buy the most cars: 11.1 percent of all automobiles sold in the U.S. last year. And with Golden State gas prices regularly among the highest in America, drivers have an extra incentive to consider fuel economy when thinking about which car to buy.

California also offers purchase incentives for hybrid and plug-in vehicles. Earlier this year, the California Air Resources Board renewed the program to the tune of $27 million.

Electric and hybrid vehicles currently make up 3.4 percent of the total number of automobiles in the U.S., up a full percentage point up from last year.

"Mainstream car buyers have been slow to accept hybrid and electric vehicles, but the numbers are trending up, and you can almost hear a sigh of relief from automakers who made big bets on these vehicles," said Edmunds senior analyst Jessica Caldwell in a statement. "As more alt-fuel vehicles come to the market and as prices for these cars become more affordable, we expect a higher percentage of shoppers will at least consider an alternative fuel vehicle the next time they're buying a new car."