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Tesla's Second Wind: California's Green Stickers Running Out

Many people simply don't want to worry about so-called "range-anxiety." They don't have the time or patience for thinking about where to charge during the day, or if they will make it on that unscheduled detour or other trip.

So what has been the solution? Buy a Chevrolet Volt, Ford or Toyota that gives you anywhere between 6 miles and 38 miles on wall-plug electric power, and then you run on gasoline after that. Problem fixed!

With these cars no longer getting the carpool sticker some time before mid-2014, the only game in town for longer-range cars is Tesla. The Model S comes in two versions; one rated by the EPA for 208 miles and the other rated at 265 miles.

Clearly not everyone can afford to buy a Tesla. The car costs tens of thousands more than the competition. But some can, and now they must.

GM, Ford and Toyota will lose sales as a result of these green stickers running out by mid-year. Some of these will go to Tesla.

BMW will enter the market with the i3 with range-extender in the second quarter as well, just in time for the green stickers to run out, it appears. Ouch. I've driven the i3 and it's in many ways the most exciting new car to hit the market, but the i3 version with range-extender looks like it will not get the benefit of the the relevant California carpool sticker situation.

Clearly, the 80- to 100-mile all-electric cars will continue to sell in whatever quantities they have already been selling -- such as the Nissan Leaf and the upcoming BMW i3 without range-extender.  But the cars that can compete with Tesla in range -- Chevrolet Volt, BMW i3 with range-extender, Toyota Prius Plug-In and the two relevant Ford models -- will have a big comparative problem starting next quarter.

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