California almost halfway to 2025 goal for zero-emissions cars

BMW, General Motors lead the charge

California's zero-emissions vehicle (ZEV) sales last year were almost half of what will be needed to meet the ZEV mandate Golden State set in 2012 for 2025, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). Factoring in steady sales during the next eight years, automakers would need to boost their collective zero-emissions vehicle sales to about 165,000 from about 68,000 last year. ZEVs accounted for about 3.5 percent of the 2.1 million vehicles sold in the state in 2016. California EV sales rose 18 percent last year.

Contrary to previous estimates that ZEVs would need to account for 15 percent of vehicle sales by 2025, such vehicles would need make up about 8 percent of new-car sales by then, according to the UCS. That's because automakers such as California-based Tesla have accrued ZEV credits at a faster rate than previously estimated, while ZEVs' single-charge ranges are increasing faster than expected. For instance, General Motors' primary electric vehicle is the Chevrolet Bolt, whose single charge range of 239 miles is about three times as long as the Chevy Spark EV. Take a look at UCS's blog post here.

Such EV sales growth in California is impressive considering that Honda's and Toyota's EV sales were pretty much nonexistent last year. On the flip side, about 9 percent of BMW's California sales were accounted for by the German automaker's i sub-brand of plug-in vehicles, while EVs accounted for 7 percent and 6.2 percent of General Motors' and Volkswagen's vehicle sales in the state, respectively. Automakers, which collectively make about two-dozen plug-in models now, are expected to expand that number to as many as 70 models within the next five years.

For the US, sales of plug-in vehicles through April jumped about 51 percent from a year earlier to more than 52,000 units.

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