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California to be biggest electric vehicle market
California is likely to become the biggest U.S. market for new plug-in and electric cars, accounting for more sales of these high-tech, clean vehicles than the five next largest states combined, according to a new study.

The Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor said in its study that demand for plug-in and electric cars, such as the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf, is likely to follow a similar pattern to hybrid car sales.

The leading markets for these new, cleaner vehicles tend to be the more populous states, but California also leads in density of hybrid owners, with more than 50 per 10,000 residents, compared with fewer than 26 per 10,000 in Texas or Michigan.

General Motors Co. and Nissan Motor Co. are ramping up deliveries and production of the Volt and Leaf, respectively.

Ford Motor Co. is expected to introduce an electric Focus before the end of the year, while several other carmakers are rolling out their own electric offerings: the Mitsubishi i-Miev, a Tesla Model S, a Fisker Karma, a Coda sedan, a Mini E, Toyota RAV-4 and electric Smart Fortwo.

"California is an initial launch state for the Volt, Leaf and Focus Electric — likely due to its position as the largest

automobile market in the United States, as well as its relatively high penetration of hybrids, and regulatory environment conducive to electric vehicle adoption," the study said.

Fuel-cell vehicles, now leased in tiny numbers, are expected to increase from 2015 as more models become available.

According to industry estimates cited in the study, combined U.S. sales of electric, plug-in and fuel-cell vehicles is expected to nearly double from 77,000 in 2012 to 140,000 in 2015. By then, the number of electrics and plug-ins on U.S. roads is expected to reach close to 500,000.

According to the CAR report, key factors underpinning demand for these new and cleaner technologies include tax or other incentives, the provision of priority parking spaces and the installation of charging outlets.

States offering the biggest array of incentives include Florida, Colorado, Massachusetts, Maryland, New York, Utah and California. Detroit News
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