Plug-in Cars: Where Can You Buy Them?

466051990 1425510451534 jpeg

Thursday’s pricing announcement for the Chevrolet Spark EV likely piqued some interest on the West Coast, but chances are few others gave it much attention. GM will sell the all-electric hatchback only in California and Oregon; the automaker has announced no plans to sell it elsewhere, spokesman Kevin Kelly told us.

Where can EV fans find their cars? We tallied up the states.

No surprise: Californians get the biggest slice of the EV pie. Thank the state’s zero-emissions vehicle mandate, which requires automakers to sell a certain percentage of zero-emissions vehicles, explained Ed Kim, AutoPacific’s vice president of industry analysis. Nearby Washington state has adopted California’s emissions requirements but not the ZEV quota, and states such as Oregon and a number along the East Coast have adopted both.

The emissions requirement should eventually align with the federal government’s 2025 corporate average fuel economy requirements. But it still means “a plug-in car sold in Oregon counts towards California’s required ZEV volume for the automaker that makes that vehicle,” Kim wrote in an email. “It’s not a natural consumer market for such vehicles, but rather a market legislated into existence.”

Good news: EV fans who live in states without ZEV requirements still have a few plug-in cars to choose from. The Chevrolet Volt went on sale nationwide in June 2011; the Nissan Leaf hit all 50 states nine months later. Ford launched the Focus Electric in California, New Jersey and New York, but it announced in February the car would be available nationwide by spring. Alongside the Fusion Energi and C-Max Energi, Ford’s plug-ins are now available in 49 states, spokeswoman Amanda Zusman told us. “West Virginia is the last state, and we have a dealer in that state that is nearly certified,” Zusman wrote in an email.

Mitsubishi says the i-MiEV is available at its EV certified dealers nationwide. We found i-MiEV-certified dealers in all but seven states:  Alaska, Arkansas, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Rhode Island and Wyoming.

Although Tesla only has stores in just over a dozen states, the California automaker will sell you its Model S online. Are shoppers actually going that route? Well, one executive told this month that North Carolina — where there are zero Tesla stores — has registered dozens of sales.

After introducing the Prius Plug-In across just 14 states, Toyota said the car would be available nationwide by 2013. As of now, however, spokesman Greg Thome told us the automaker still limits availability to the original 14 states.

The Smart ForTwo Electric Drive is on sale in California and Oregon, plus a slew of East Coast states — Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont. Smart says to expect nationwide availability by autumn.

The Honda Fit EV is on sale now in California, Connecticut, Oregon, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island. East Coasters won’t get a shot at the Chevrolet Spark EV, which goes on sale in June for Oregon and California.

Cut Oregon out of the picture for the Fiat 500e, which goes on sale in June for California residents. The same goes for the Toyota RAV4 EV, which has been on sale since summer 2012. At least you can buy either of those; Scion reserves the iQ EV for car-sharing and fleet programs.

Finally, the Fisker Karma is still available, and listings show several dozen cars across a wide range of states. But that would mean taking a gamble on a near-defunct automaker.

Photo of Kelsey Mays
Former Assistant Managing Editor-News Kelsey Mays likes quality, reliability, safety and practicality. But he also likes a fair price. Email Kelsey Mays

Latest expert reviews