FREMONT (KCBS) – Electric vehicle sales in California have taken off, industry officials said Friday as they urged state leaders to ensure there is infrastructure to support the growing number of electric vehicles.

General Motors has sold 5,000 electric vehicles so far in 2012, compared to 5,000 for all of last year, said spokesman Shad Balach.

“So the market is definitely growing. Public awareness is important. People need to understand how the cars work and operate,” he said. “Once they get behind the wheel, they’re sold.”

KCBS’ Mike Colgan Reports:

Balach and others testified at a State Senate hearing in Fremont Friday about ways the state can support the growing demand for the latest automobile technology.

Just about every major manufacturer either is selling electric model or is planning to bring one to market. Balach said GM, for example, expects to start selling the Chevy Spark next year, and an electric Cadillac by mid-2014.

Sen. Ellen Corbett, the majority leader who chaired the hearing, pointed to the confluence of environmentalism and interest in technological innovation as factors fueling the electric car market in California.

“California is the number one market for these types of vehicles. People buy electric vehicles in California, so we have to have the infrastructure as well, to allow them to plug in and keep driving,” she said, pointing to manufacturers like Tesla Motors as important engines of the Bay Area economy.

Balach said it was important to avoid early mistakes by using standard connectors, and first installing the electric vehicle infrastructure in areas that would be best served.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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