Tesla in the tropics: Why Hawaii has a great electric car market

Tesla is discovering that Hawaii is well suited to electric cars, and sales of the Tesla Model S in the state are starting to ramp up. What makes the Aloha state so plugin-friendly?

Ann Hermes/Staff/File
A 17-inch touchscreen is featured in the Model S electric sports sports sedan in Boston. Tesla Motors and other electric automakers are discovering that Hawaii, with its high density of charging stations,is a booming electric car market. Photo by Ann Hermes/The Christian Science Monitor

As Nissan has discovered with sales of its Leaf, Hawaii is well suited to the daily duties of running an electric car.

It's something Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] is discovering too, as sales of the Model S sedan are ramping up in the island state, and taking a healthy chunk of the market's electric car sales overall.

The Hawaii Automobile Dealers Association reports (via Pacific Business News) that Tesla sold 94 Model S vehicles from January through June, around a quarter of the 388 electric cars sold in the state over the same period. Those sales are accelerating too, as 72 of those were sold in the second quarter alone.

Sales of electric cars in general have been steadily increasing in Hawaii, but the first half-year of 2013 is already outpacing 2012's total of 341 cars. That was a slight increase from 338 in 2011. The presence of the Model S, more affordable Leafs and Chevy Volts and the addition of a few more electric vehicles from other brands. Nissan put its high Hawaii sales down to one of the densest recharging grids in the United States--meaning EV drivers find it really easy to get around.

That's still not on par with Tesla's (and indeed Nissan's) Californian sales The Car Connection reports, where the Model S outsold (on the basis of registrations) Buick, Lincoln, Porsche, Volvo, Cadillac and all Jaguar and Land Rover's products in June--and has outsold most of those year-to-date in the state too. Tesla's registrations show 4,714 cars were sold from January through June in California. Our sister site Motor Authority is keen to point out that you shouldn't really compare Model S sales to those of luxury brands, however...

...so its out-selling of Chrysler, Fiat and Mitsubishi in June, in California is probably more impressive.

Either way, certain states are proving their suitability for electric cars above others, and if you're in Hawaii or California, the Tesla Model S particularly is proving a hit.

[Hat tip: Brian Henderson]

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