Based on the data just released from the CEC, sales of zero emissions vehicles (ZEV) in the state grew 73% in 2021 vs 2020, a new record.  Some of this surge was probably due to pent-up demand during the lockdown.  This surge in 2021 pushed the cumulative total sales over 1 million vehicles (1,054,095).  ZEV sales in California are now over 13% of all new light duty vehicle sales (approx. 1.9 million in 2021).  The ZEV leader is clearly the battery electric vehicle with 73% of 2021 sales and 66% of cumulative sales since 1998.  Plug-in Hybrid vehicles lost out to BEVs in 2014 and have never regained the lead. Fuel Cell EVs are now under a 1.5% share of all EVs in the state, down from a peak of 2.2% in 2017.  The cumulative total of FCEVs now stands at 11,933 or a little more than 1% of all EVs sold in the state.  The 2021 sales of FCEVs were boosted not only with the reduction in lockdown restrictions but also by the $15,000 prepaid fuel incentive (about 7 years of fuel) provided by Toyota to buyers of its Mirai sedan. As a result, the Mirai ended up capturing 73% of all FCEV sales in the state last year. 

California Energy Commission Zero Emission Vehicle and Infrastructure Statistics. Data last updated Dec. 31, 2021.

Entering the scene for the first time in 2021 were sales of the Rivian truck—264 sold in the state, mostly in L. A., Orange County, and Santa Clara County.  

There was an even larger 97% surge in sales of EVs nationwide in 2021 over 2020, according to data from DOE’s Argonne National Lab.  If these data are on a similar basis as the CEC data, then California EV sales represent 41% of all EV sales nationwide.

Most of these sales are still Teslas. The Model 3 and Model Y each outsold the next top 5 EVs models. This makes 2022 an exciting year. Surging gas prices, over 20 new EVs from legacy OEMs, and the arrival of electric work trucks and vans exponential present an opportunity to change the landscape.  In our predictions we optimistically said 10% of all new vehicles will be ZEV, hopefully we nail it.


Thomas is the Executive Director of CleanStart. Thomas has a strong background in supporting small businesses, leadership, financial management and is proficient in working with nonprofits. He has a BS in Finance and a BA in Economics from California State University, Chico. Thomas has a passion for sustainability and a commitment to supporting non-profits in the region.

Thomas Hall


Gary Simon is the Chair of CleanStart’s Board. A seasoned energy executive and entrepreneur with 45 years of experience in business, government, and non-profits.

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