Tesla Tops California ZEV Credit Sales

Tesla Model S

Tesla isn’t the only auto manufacturer to make money selling California zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) credits, but they do sell the most. On the flip side, General Motors bought more credits than anyone else.

Tesla sold 1,311.52 ZEV credits from October 1, 2012 though September 30, 2013 to snag the number one spot on the sales list. Just to give you some perspective, that’s 32 times more than the next highest seller, Suzuki, which sold 41.199 ZEV credits.

How did Suzuki manage that feat without actually selling any cars in California or anywhere else in the United States since 2012? Credits can be bought and traded at any time, so these were older credits the manufacturer earned sometime before it discontinued US sales.

Toyota also got in on the action by trading the most Advanced Technology Partial-ZEV credits which they earned for the Toyota Prius. The number was still much smaller than what Tesla sold overall, coming in at 507.5 credits total.

The company didn’t actually buy or sell any ZEV credits of any kind, but rather traded the credits it earned. The Prius was California’s best-selling vehicle line last year and was holding that title through the first three months of 2013 so Toyota likely has plenty of credits to spare.

The credits are all part of California’s strict emissions standards that require auto manufacturers to sell a certain percentage of electric or non-polluting vehicles in relation to their market share in the state. California aims to have 1.5 million zero emission vehicles on their roads by the year 2025.

Companies aren’t required to disclose the terms of sales or trades, but Tesla has reported on its sales figures for the first half of 2013. They say they’ve sold $119 million worth of credits, but expect that number to fall during the second half of the year.

Automakers who acquired credits through trades or purchases in order to keep within California’s requirements include Chrysler, General Motors, Honda, Jaguar Land Rover, Subaru and Volkswagen.

Nicole Wakelin fell in love with cars as a teenager when she got to go for a ride in a Ferrari. It was red and it was fast and that was all that mattered. Game over. She considers things a bit more carefully now, but still has a weakness for fast, beautiful cars. Nicole also writes for NerdApproved and GeekMom.