Considering its notch — geographically and philosophically — in the middle of the “truck-belt,” Georgia, it turns out, is a leader in its embrace of fuel-free electric vehicles.
The Peach State ranked fourth in the nation in the percentage of electric vehicle registrations, according to auto website Edmunds.com. Georgia was the only non-West Coast state, trailing Washington, Hawaii and California.
Even so, EV adoption is infinitesimal — accounting for just 1.1 percent of all vehicle car registrations in Georgia between January and November.
EVs accounted for 1.6 percent of all electric vehicle registrations in Washington and Hawaii; and 1.4 percent in California. Mississippi ranked last in EV registrations.
The embrace of electric vehicles in Georgia is less about saving the planet, as it is about saving Benjamins. Tax credits and fuel savings typically offset the electric vehicle price premium.
Atlanta’s sprawl means fuel-guzzling commutes (even when it doesn’t snow 2 inches), making the ROI on trading hydrocarbons for electrons appealing.
The region’s temperate climate (again, let’s pretend Tuesday never happened); and relatively flat topography (the steepest part of my commute is my driveway) means limited drain on electric vehicle batteries, maximizing range.
But, I suspect Atlantans' embrace of EVs is largely fueled by the state's relatively rich tax incentives. Georgia offers a $5,000 tax credit to EV drivers, the richest in the Southeast and among the highest around the nation. (Progressive California offers a $2,500 state tax credit for EV drives).
The Nissan LEAF, which starts at $28,000, is especially popular among Atlanta drivers. In December, Nissan sold "nearly 1,000" LEAFs in Atlanta — or more than a third of all LEAFs sold in the US that month, according to InsideEVs.
Even the premium Tesla Model S sedan is seeing accelerating demand. So much so, the Palo Alto-based based automaker opened a Marietta store in mid January and is scouting additional sites, including Alpharetta and Buckhead for additional locations.
While Tesla Motors (Nasdaq: TSLA) does not break down statewide sales, sources said the company delivered nearly 500 cars from its Atlanta sales center last year.
Atlanta is a growing market for Tesla, according to Alexis Georgeson. California remains Tesla's top market, followed by Florida and New York.
"We're seeing a number of walk-ins into our Atlanta service center," Georgeson said.
Tesla puts service centers in markets with clusters of customers. Locating a stand-alone store in Atlanta underscores the local demand for the Model S, she said.
- This article originally appeared in the Atlanta Business Chronicle.