When it comes to California zero-emissions vehicle (ZEV) credits last year, Nissan was selling and Mercedes-Benz was buying. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) put out its ZEV-credits numbers for the year that ended September 30, which is why we now know that Nissan, maker of the battery-electric Leaf, transferred 663.6 ZEV credits out of its account last year. That just edged out the 650.195 credits that Tesla sold. Chrysler's Fiat affiliate was a distant third, but its limited-production Fiat 500E was still able to generate some ZEV credits and then transfer out 235.2 of them. We don't know how much the buyers paid for these credits, since those details are kept private. It's an ever-changing rulebook over at CARB, anyway.
On the flip side, Mercedes-Benz had to buy 663.6 ZEV credits in order to comply with clean vehicle-sales mandates in the most populous US state, indicative of the German automaker's gas-guzzling tendencies. Honda has cars that get better fuel economy than your average Benz, but its plug-in vehicles represent just a fraction of total sales and so it had to shell out for 542.5 ZEV credits. Chrysler-Fiat basically tread water, since the 237.8 ZEV credits it required for compliance canceled out gains on the other side of the ledger. Those Dodge Ram pickup trucks don't exactly help matters. Last year, Tesla sold the most ZEV credits while GM purchased the most.
Overall, Californians bought about 3.5 million vehicles for the year that ended September 30, including 38,000 battery-electric vehicles, 30,000 plug-in hybrids and 570,000 conventional hybrids. The longstanding ZEV program means that California now has more than 100,000 ZEVs on its roads. Read this for more details on ZEV credit transfers in California.