A new study conducted by consulting firm Pike Research finds that demographics and fuel prices on a state-by-state basis are what will most likely determine the adoption rate of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) among consumers.

Pike’s survey indicates sales of PEVs are expected to accelerate rapidly over the next several years, posting a compound annual growth rate of 43% between 2011 and 2017, with annual sales reaching almost 360,000 vehicles by 2017.

Yet adoption of PEVs will vary significantly by geography, with the most populous states as well as those with the highest fuel prices witnessing the highest sales. Hawaii, which typically has among the highest gas prices in the nation, will be the top state for PEV adoption, according to Pike, representing 6.3% of total light-duty vehicle sales in 2017. The second highest penetration rate will be in California (5.4%), followed by Oregon (5.4%), Washington, D.C. (4.6%), and Delaware (4.5%).

“PEV penetration will be influenced by several factors,” said senior analyst Dave Hurst. “Demographics, consumer attitudes, and available infrastructure will all help determine the uptake of PEVs in different areas.”

In addition, because of manufacturers’ rollout schedules, the availability of PEVs will vary widely by state and by region. New York and California today account for more than half of the available PEVs in the U.S., while Southern states like Mississippi, Arkansas, and Alabama, as well as largely rural states such as Wyoming and Alaska, have very few plug-in electric vehicles available.

This means that certain utilities, such as Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas & Electric in California and New York’s Consolidated Edison, will need to accelerate their preparations for significant rollouts of PEVs compared to their counterparts in other regions, noted Hurst.

Consumer attitudes toward electric vehicles will also play a large role in determining PEV adoption rates, as there’s wide divergence from state to state.

Using data from its recent Electric Vehicle Customer Survey, as well as other qualitative indicators, Pike developed an “Index of Positive Opinion” toward PEVs. Scores ranged from a high of 4.36 for Northern California down to 0.07 – effectively, a negative overall opinion – in states such as North Dakota.