Automotive Blog

Large variation in hybrid and electric vehicle mixes across different metropolitan areas

The mix of new vehicle powertrains varies as much among the different regions of the United States as does the mix of makes and models, if not more so. The 15 Designated Market Areas (DMAs) with the highest percentage of hybrid powertrains together account for almost 30% of all hybrid registrations nationally, yet these same 15 markets include just 12.5% of all new vehicle registrations. Nine of these 15 hybrid-rich areas have a hybrid penetration greater than 6%, while the national penetration is 2.97%. In San Francisco, the market area with the highest hybrid mix, almost one of every 10 new vehicles sold is a hybrid.

Looking at the electric vehicle market, these same 15 metropolitan areas have accounted for 41% of all U.S. electric vehicle registrations through the first 10 months of 2012. Two of these 15 areas, Los Angeles and San Francisco, by themselves captured a quarter of all electric vehicle sales nationally during the same time period. The 15 areas with such high concentrations of hybrid and electric vehicles are all located on the West Coast.

At the other end of the spectrum, the 15 market areas with the lowest hybrid concentration delivered just 5,422 hybrids through 10 months. This equates to a hybrid penetration of 1.53%, about one twentieth the hybrid penetration of the top 15 markets. These markets at the bottom of the hybrid list also fared poorly with electric vehicles, selling just 98 or less than 1% of all electrics. Yet these 15 markets sell 6.6% of all new vehicles nationally. These 15 geographical areas are generally in the central region of the country.

These data provide one illustration of why generalizing about the U.S. new vehicle landscape based on one market area can be risky.

DMA's with Highest and Lowest Percents of Hybrid & Electric Powertrains

Posted by Tom Libby, Lead Analyst, North American Forecasting, Polk (12.21.2012)

About The Author

Manager, Loyalty Solutions and Industry Analysis

Tom currently uses his passion for the auto industry to serve as a Solutions Consultant for IHS Automotive's Loyalty Practice. His past roles here include Sr. Forecasting Analyst and PolkInsight Advisor (he worked for two years in Polk’s Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey office). Tom's other interests include reading, gardening, sailing and running. Aside from Detroit and New York, Tom has also lived in Los Angeles, Denver, and Boston, where he drove a taxi for two years. Tom has also traveled extensively in the United States and overseas, including an overland trip across Asia after graduating from college. Tom is inspired by people who practice what they preach and enjoys socializing with friends that he's met throughout his career and from school.

Tom is a past member of the Board of Directors of the Society of Automotive Analysts (SAA). During the 2009 calendar year, Tom was President of that organization. He is an active member of the Automotive Press Association, and in the past has written a blog for the online version of the Detroit Free Press. Tom has a bachelor's degree in history from Amherst College, an MBA with a marketing concentration from Columbia University and once served as an Adjunct Professor of Market Research at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California.