Study: U.S. will buy 1.8 million electric vehicles by 2020

Cities like New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle will be fertile ground for electric vehicle manufacturers in the coming years

While sales of plug-in electric vehicles have fallen short of projections to date, interest in these vehicles is growing, particularly in large metropolitan areas.

Cities like New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle combine large population areas with early rollout schedules from vehicle manufacturers, and positive attitudes toward plug-ins among residents, making them fertile ground for electric vehicle manufacturers in the coming years.

According to a recent report from Pike Research, a part of Navigant's Energy Practice, sales of plug-ins in the largest 102 cities in the U.S. will total slightly more than 1.8 million from 2012 through 2020.

"More than a quarter of all annual U.S. plug-in vehicle sales will be in the top five metropolitan areas for PEV sales - New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and Portland," says senior research analyst Dave Hurst. "But thanks to a combination of positive attitudes towards green driving, high fuel prices, and state government support, California metropolitan statistical areas will account for more than one in five plug-in vehicles sold."

The report's analysis indicates that plug-in acceptance is strongly linked to not only the availability of plug-in vehicle models, but also the accessibility of charging infrastructure. Texas, for example, has seen a dramatic increase in the number of charging stations available in 2012. Pike Research's index of positive opinions toward plug-in vehicles moved the state's ranking from 42nd in 2010 to fourth in 2012, the largest change of any state in the index.

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