Sonoma County is on a roll with electric vehicles, with dealers selling one of the clean-air cars every seven hours this year, according to a new report by the Santa Rosa-based Center for Climate Protection.
The growing market, with Nissan Leafs, Chevrolet Volts and Toyota Prius plug-in hybrids leading the way, has amounted to more than 1,900 electric vehicles purchased in the county since 2010, according to state records.
Those vehicles have offset about 7,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions that would have been produced by traditional fuel-burning cars, said the report, which looked at the landscape of electric vehicles — including hybrids — in Sonoma County.
“That’s pretty impressive,” said Doron Amiran, electric vehicle program manager with the Center for Climate Protection, which released the report late last month.
The center is backing Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to put 1.5 million zero-emission vehicles on California roadways by 2025, and Amiran said Sonoma County is well on its way to that goal, accounting for 1.6 percent of California’s EV sales to date.
The county would need about 16,000 “climate-friendly” vehicles to meet its share of the statewide target, Amiran said.
Sebastopol, the city known for its green inclinations, has the highest proportion of EVs, with 7.8 per 1,000 residents, the report said. Glen Ellen had 6.3 and Penngrove had 6.1, while east Santa Rosa ranked sixth with 3.6 EVs per 1,000 residents.
Mayor Patrick Slayter said he wasn’t surprised by the yen for EVs in Sebastopol, which has a solar array at the southern gateway to the city.
“I think it’s part of the ethos,” he said. “We see them as relevant transportation.”
The City Council on Sept. 1 decided to put three new EV charging stations in a city parking lot on High Street, accompanying two other stations that will be part of a CVS commercial project, and approved plans for a city-sponsored EV exposition next spring.
Sebastopol also has required all new residential and commercial buildings to include solar power equipment, which Slayter said is an ideal complement to electric vehicles.
Sonoma County had 1,500 electric cars by the end of March, more than half of them sold or leased in 2014. Another 300 were acquired from April through June, a rate of more than three a day, according to the climate center’s report, “Electric Vehicles in Sonoma County.”
State records show a total of 1,923 electric vehicles had been purchased in the county as of Aug. 31 this year. The records are based on rebates paid to buyers.
Overall, EVs in Sonoma County represent less than 1 percent of the total number of registered autos.
Santa Rosa has 525 EVs, the most of any local community, according to the report, followed by Petaluma with 265 and Sebastopol with 221. The Nissan Leaf is the most popular EV in the county, with 543 sold through March 30, followed by the Chevy Volt (264) and Prius plug-in hybrid (238). There are 135 Tesla Model S sedans in the county.
Statewide, there are 118,112 EVs on the road, a number based on rebates of up to $5,000 paid to buyers of new zero-emission and plug-in hybrid vehicles, according to the California Air Resources Board’s Clean Vehicle Rebate Project, which has paid a total of nearly $250 million in rebates. Only 70 percent of eligible vehicles are rebated, the local report said.
WHERE THEY ARE
Sonoma County communities with highest electric vehicle ownership:
EVs per 1,000 people:
Glen Ellen 6.3
West Petaluma 4.8
East Santa Rosa 3.6
Source: Center for Climate Protection