Bolt EV helps boost electric car sales by 91% in California

Some good news for electric-car optimists: Sales of EVs in California rose 91% in the first quarter of 2017 from the same period last year.

Pessimists will focus on total units: Only 13,804 pure electrics were sold across California. Sales for all cars and light trucks totaled 506,745, according to the California New Car Dealers Assn.

For electrics, that’s a market share of 2.7%.

Tesla and Chevrolet get most of the credit for the electric-car sales gain.

The Bolt brings a “new element” to the electric car market, said Rebecca Lindblad, a Kelley Blue Book analyst, with its hatchback, mid-market price and range around 240 miles.

Over three months, Chevy sold 2,735 Bolt EVs in California.

By 2025, roughly 15% of the cars in the state are required to be zero-emission vehicles. “We’re a long way from getting anywhere close,” Lindblad said.

Sales of plug-in hybrids – grid-rechargeable cars with limited electric range until a gasoline engine takes over – were up 54% in the first quarter year-over-year in California, to 10,466 cars.

But regular, hybrids were down 9.2%, to 22,328. The new and improved Prius family of hybrids, with its controversial redesign, is off to a rough start. And analysts are watching to see whether the market expands as new electric models hit the market — or if large numbers of electric-car customers are trading in hybrids.

Nissan will introduce a new version of its Leaf all-electric car this fall, with an expected range of 200 miles. If most Leaf buyers are trading in older Leafs, it won’t do much for the zero-emission new-car market.

Tesla, whose Model S and Model X sales have flattened after a big Model X ramp-up in 2016, plans to slowly introduce a mid-priced mass-market car, the Model 3, beginning this summer.

“If they can actually deliver, that will be the best opportunity to draw in new buyers” to the pure-electric market, Lindblad said.

She noted that hundreds of thousands of potential customers have put down $1,000 deposits on a Model 3.

russ.mitchell@latimes.com

Twitter: @russ1mitchell

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