The 10 Best US Cities to Own an Electric Vehicle in 2017

 In EV Industry

The electric vehicle market is tough to gauge because it is continuously shifting. A variety of factors can influence which cities present the most accommodating and affordable options for EV owners. Cities that encourage electric vehicle ownership use a comprehensive suite of EV promotion that will spur residents into action. Places that address the consumer challenges to owning an EV are the ones that come out on top. This includes everything from cost incentives to the charging infrastructure and consumer awareness. Many policy actions are tailored to unique local conditions, like tolls and carpool lanes.

In the past three years alone, cities have been elbowing each other for the top spots, with the newest #1 (San Jose) winning with infrastructure. The following are the 10 current best cities to be an EV owner based on finance, convenience, and total adoption (ranked in descending order):

Top 10 US Cities to own an EV

New York, New York

Plug-in sales in the state of New York reached 19,274 by October of last year. New York City was one of the initial leaders for public EV adoption. Despite a minor lul in previous years, EV popularity continues to rise as public charging infrastructure and EV adoption incentives have recharged public adoption.

Charging Infrastructure
In December 2016, a pilot program was approved to begin the installation of two public charging stations per 5 boroughs in the city. Stations will pop up in places like gas stations, municipal parking lots, parks, and other places that support a broader consumer adoption.

Financial Incentive
New York residents are eligible for a Drive Clean Rebate of up to $2,000 that can be used at the point of sale. This can be combined with the federal tax credit for a total savings of up to $7,500 on the purchase of a new EV.

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The SmartCharge New York program is another financial incentive in which drivers can save on electricity based on their off-peak usage. Furthermore, drivers of EVs can use the HOV lane on the Long Island Expressway, collect a 10% discount on the E-Z Pass for tolls, and receive reduced insurance rates for green driving habits.

Total Adoption

Drivers of EVs in NYC can use the HOV lane on the Long Island Expressway through the state’s Clean Pass Program. Additionally, The New York State Thruway Authority offers a 10% discount on the E-Z pass for tolls. EV owners can also receive insurance discounts for green driving habits.

Environmental Conditions
New York can get very cold in the winter. One of the main issues with EVs and cold weather is that the life of the battery is diminished. Due to this reason, many NYC residents only drive their EVs during the spring through fall.

Denver, Colorado

One of the most generous states in the nation for EV owners, Colorado is working diligently to increase EV ownership among residents. With almost 8,000 cars sold in the state so far, residents have a ways to go, but Denver still sits far above the majority of other cities in the nation.

Charging Infrastructure
Denver Public Works recently announced plans to build the first publicly accessible Level 3 quick-charging station. Typical charging times range between 20 to 30 minutes vs. several hours for regular stations. Additionally, there are Level 2 EV charging stations at 8 locations throughout downtown Denver. Colorado is also teaming up with Utah and Nevada to build the first charging station network on highways 5, 25, 70, 76, and 80. The charging corridor covers more than 2,000 miles of road and will span across three states.

Financial Incentive
Residents of Denver looking to purchase an EV are eligible to receive a state tax credit (HB 1332) of up to $6,000. Buyers can take this credit at the time of purchase simply by signing a few documents. This allows them to roll the credit into the sale instead of waiting for a rebate.

Residents of Denver looking to purchase an EV are eligible to receive a state tax credit (HB 1332) of up to $6,000. Buyers can take this credit at the time of purchase simply by signing a few documents. This allows them to roll the credit into the sale instead of waiting for a rebate.Dealership Support

Dealership Support
Dealer support in Colorado has been positive because of the HB1332 tax credit. By the state allowing Denver dealers to use the credit towards financing the car, it reduces the purchase price, thus making for an easier sale. Since the introduction of this credit, dealer participation and EV purchasing have gone up.Total Adoption

Total Adoption
Approximately 75% of charging events in Denver occur at home. The Colorado Department of Transportation allows all-electric vehicles to register for an HOV exemption decal. Once displayed, travel is freely allowed in the HOV lane for all electric vehicles. The only issue with this adoption is that there is a limited amount of decals. EV owners will be put on a waiting list after the 2,000th sticker is sold.Environmental Conditions

Environmental Conditions
Colorado can have extreme temperatures from a dry, hot heat, to freezing cold. Temperature changes can affect the powertrain components of an EV. It’s best to always check Denver weather to gauge the range of the battery for that particular day. Temperate weather is always the best conditions for EVs.8) San Diego, California

San Diego, California

California electric cars

In an effort to boost its campaign to have 1.5 million electric cars on the road by 2025, California is now only offering rebates to low- and middle-income people who buy zero-emission vehicles.

The state of California is a prime place to live for an EV owner, but there are large differentiations to be made between cities. From 2011 to 2016, California residents purchased 244,963 electric vehicles, and San Diego is among one of the most popular cities in the country to own an EV. The state of California is a prime place to live for an EV owner, but there are large differentiations to be made between cities. From 2011 to 2016, California residents purchased 244,963 electric vehicles, and San Diego is among one of the most popular cities in the country to own an EV.Charging Infrastructure

Charging Infrastructure
In 2015, the University of California San Diego established a partnership with EVgo to build an entire charging infrastructure on campus. The city has one of the most successful EV infrastructures in the country. There are 584 level 2 charging stations, and 28 level 3 (super charge) stations located within 10 miles of the city. Financial Incentive

Financial Incentive
The state of California offers rebates ranging from $1,500 to $5,000. The average savings for EV vehicles for San Diego drivers is $3,257, with the Nissan and Tesla as the leading cost effective brands.

Dealership Support
Dealership SupportIn September 2016, San Diego held an “Electric Vehicle Day” to promote the usage and ownership within the city. Dealerships were on hand showing off the latest models and talking to residents about incentives.

In September 2016, San Diego held an “Electric Vehicle Day” to promote the usage and ownership within the city. Dealerships were on hand showing off the latest models and talking to residents about incentives.Dealers were also demonstrating how to use charging stations and allowing people to take test drives of the various models. Despite dealerships having a bad reputation for not being too supportive of EVs, San Diego is one of the cities with the most excited sales professionals, just waiting to sell.

Dealers were also demonstrating how to use charging stations and allowing people to take test drives of the various models. Despite dealerships having a bad reputation for not being too supportive of EVs, San Diego is one of the cities with the most excited sales professionals, just waiting to sell.Total Adoption

Total Adoption
In one of the country’s most congested cities, EV owners are allowed to drive in the HOV lane at all times. Public charging and special parking are also readily available throughout the city. Last year, San Diego Gas & Electric announced plans to launch a $45 million dollar program called “Power Your Drive” that intends to install 3,500 charging stations at 350 locations, over the next 3 years. There is also a $7.5 million dollar education program on EV ownership to complement those new stations.

Environmental Conditions
San Diego has a high amount of traffic and the city also averages a temperature in the 80’s year-round. Over 50% of EVs sold in the US are located in the 17 states with the highest temperatures. The use of AC can cause range to decrease on your vehicle battery, with some drivers choosing to opt out of AC completely (this gets higher mileage).

Washington, DC

Nissan Linking Boston and Washington, D.C. With Electric Car Charging Stations

Washington, D.C. has sat in the top 5 cities since electric vehicles hit the market and although it has slipped in rankings, it is still much more accommodating than the majority of other metropolis regions in the country.Charging Infrastructure

Charging Infrastructure
The DC-Baltimore area has more than 700 charging stations located throughout the city. Additionally, many federal facilities have Level 1 locations available for personal use. The following are the most popular networks in the DC area:

An EV owner can sign up with any of these networks to take advantage of their local charging stations. These companies also provide Internet tools and apps to easily locate places to charge throughout the city.

Financial Incentive
The federal tax credit for EV ownership can be taken for up to $7,500. and D.C. offers a reduced vehicle registration fee of $36. Additionally, EV owners are exempt from the excise tax imposed on the original certificate of title. Unlike other cities, however, D.C. does not offer any additional rebates at the time of purchase.

Dealership Support
The Electric Vehicle Association of Greater Washington, DC is launching a program with the surrounding states to offer dealerships specific rebates and incentives for buying and selling electric vehicles. The EV-group purchasing program allows dealerships to offer more competitive pricing that rolls over to increased savings for drivers.

Total Adoption
The Beltway is ready to offer full support to EV vehicles, with plug-ins receiving single-occupancy carpool access. Fleet EVs are exempt from specific time-of-day and week commercial vehicle bans.

Environmental Conditions
EV owners often struggle with understanding exactly how the climate in their city will affect their electric vehicle. The Electric Vehicle Association has you covered with Climate Central, an independent organization of scientists and journalists who have released the “Climate-Friendly Car Guide.” It’s an incredibly useful tool to find the most climate friendly EVs for your area.

Seattle, Washington

Steven Lough, one of the founders of Seattle Electric Vehicle Association, gives his Mitsubishi some juice. (TOM VOELK / SPECIAL TO AUTOS) Image: http://www.seattletimes.com/nwshowcase/automotive/batteries-included-seattle-electric-vehicle-association-leads-the-charge/

A tax-free state, Washington EV owners benefit from the cheap and clean hydro-electric energy that costs an average of 8 cents per KW hour. That is by far the cheapest in the nation. The city of Seattle provides additional savings and incentives that put it at a sound #6 on our list of top ten.

Charging Infrastructure
Drive Clean Seattle is an initiative to improve EV infrastructure throughout the city. Despite being an incredibly clean metropolis, Seattle currently lacks the EV infrastructure to promote much growth. With only a handful of Level 1 and 2 stations in the city (approx 50), the program plans to triple the infrastructure in the next 3 years.

Financial Incentive
In addition to the $7,500 federal tax credit, Seattle drivers receive an average savings of $3,592. The state also has a sales tax exemption on all EV vehicles. With a tax rate of 9.5% in the city, that adds to an extra savings of up to $6,500 depending on the vehicle model.

Dealership Support
Cost-sharing, public-private partnerships are possible for dealerships interested in promoting EV ownership. P2P sites like Plugshare.com are partnering with local Seattle dealers to help educate the public on EV ownership too. The Seattle government recognizes the issue with EV dealer promotion and has specific programs in place to reward dealer participation.

Total Adoption
Seattle has perhaps one of the most healthy EV fleets in the country. The city plans to enable and support the adoption of 15,000 electric vehicles by the year 2025. They also intend to reduce carbon emissions from the city’s fleet by 50% with EV vehicle adoption. The city currently has 9 “bucket trucks” in their service line, with plans for many more.

Environmental Conditions
Despite the rumors, Seattle weather is very temperate. With the mountains protecting from strong winds, the city may see some rain, but it definitely never sees extreme temperatures. This makes the climate in Seattle perhaps the most inviting in the nation for EV ownership. Not too hot, but not too cold.

Los Angeles, California

Just like many other cities on this list, Los Angeles is constantly shifting in place between the best-of-the-best. Marked #1 when EV vehicles first came to market, it has slipped down the list for lack of infrastructure but still remains among the top ten in the nation.

Charging Infrastructure
The EV charging statistics for Los Angeles include the following data:

  • Total in the city: 1231
  • Total free stations: 108 (9%)
  • Level 2 total: 1165
  • Level 1 total: 65
  • Main networks: ChargePoint and Blink

Last year, Los Angeles replaced a distance of 7,242 km of lampposts with LED lights. Savings from this project are set to fund installing an additional 100 EV charging stations throughout the city.

Financial Incentive
EV owners in Los Angeles save an average of $3,338. Regional financial incentives vary depending on where you live in the city. L.A. Water and Power offers a 2.5 cents/ kWh discount, whereas others offer savings based on charge time. Utility companies also give rebates up to $1,000 for EV owners who install their own charging stations.

Dealership Support
Unlike other major cities, dealership attitudes towards EV sales are incredibly positive. So much so, that many dealers actually prefer to sell electric vehicles and consider them a “no-brainer.” Los Angeles dealers realize it is a different sales approach and have fully adopted the method, with some dealerships reaching numbers as high as 30% of sales from electric vehicles (compared to the U.S. standard of 1%).

Total Adoption
L.A. is the birthplace of the nation’s clean air laws and the city is very open to adopting electric vehicles. The government has been quite proactive in the installation of a public charging infrastructure and offers free parking throughout the city (including the beach). Additionally, LAX offers a variety of free charging stations in various parts of the airport.

Environmental Conditions
Los Angeles weather is very similar to San Diego and can get very hot in the summer. EV owners should be aware that high temperatures can affect the range of the battery. Newer models are better equipped for handling more extreme temperatures and it is estimated that future models will not be affected at all. Some drivers save on range by turning the AC down, but that is always a sacrifice in comfort.

Atlanta, Georgia

Reigning #1 in savings, Atlanta is still one of the best places to own an electric vehicle in the country. Not only that, the state and city government are incredibly proactive about introducing these vehicles to their residents, getting them educated, and putting them on the road.

Charging Infrastructure
The state of Georgia has almost 5,000 charging stations, with the Atlanta-Metro region ranging in the thousands. Most EV charging stations cost $1- $3 per hour, with faster stations charging up to $10. In January 2017, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport unveiled 102 charging ports open to the general public. Overall, Atlanta has an incredibly robust charging infrastructure that offers continual support to EV ownership.

Financial Incentive
With a basic electricity rate of only .06/kWh, an electric vehicle costs an average of $1.50 to fully charge in Atlanta. A cost comparison to that for a gas-powered vehicle would be approximately $15.00.

Unfortunately, the tax credit that put Atlanta at the top of the list for many years is currently unavailable—but is under serious debate. If the government is able to open the credit again, savings will equal over $5,000 for the city alone. Stay tuned.

Dealership Support
Many dealers in Atlanta offer free charging stations for residents. Although dealership support was incredibly resounding in the city, debates on the tax credit have quelled the enthusiasm for now. Nevertheless, dealerships are among some of the most supportive for EV owners in the country.

Total Adoption
Atlanta offers streamlined permitting for EV equipment installation for any resident that wants to install a station at home. Businesses that purchase medium to heavy-duty EVs are eligible for a 10% tax credit towards the purchase of a charging station. All EV vehicles have solo access to HOV and toll lanes too.

Environmental Conditions
Average energy consumption for EVs in the south is generally 15% higher than other regions, like the Pacific Northwest. This means that Atlanta residents must charge their EVs for longer and also be wary of a shorter range. Newer models are being developed that will be unaffected by weather conditions, but it is good for drivers to be wary of how extreme heat can affect electricity in general.

San Francisco, California

Although this may be the city that pops into everyone’s mind when they think of the best for EV ownership, there are a variety of reasons why it sits at number three this year. From changing tax rates and charging infrastructure, to dealership incentives, San Francisco is slightly unpredictable, but still, one of the best cities in America to get your electric wheels rolling.

Charging Infrastructure
San Francisco has one of the highest concentrations of electric vehicles in the world, but their charging infrastructure still needs to keep up. Although the city doesn’t offer exact numbers (approximation ranges between 200-300 stations) they are making leaps and bounds when it comes to personal EV station access.

Financial Incentive
Under California’s Clean Vehicle Rebate Program, residents can save up to $2,500 on an electric vehicle. Additionally, they rebate up to $10,000 for public entities that purchase EVs. The Bay Area Air Quality Management District’s PEV Rebate program also allows for up to a $1000 rebate on all PHEVs. The city has a variety of loan programs for small businesses who install a public charging station on their property too.

Dealership Support
Much like other California cities, dealerships are incredibly enthusiastic about electric vehicle ownership. This may be in part due to the regional culture of San Francisco, as socially conscious and environmentally friendly.

Total Adoption
In March 2017, the city of San Francisco announced plans that will require all new buildings to have EV stations installed (much like they have in the past with solar panels). Buildings within the city must be 100% electric vehicle ready and all parking structures accommodate EV vehicles with 10% of the space. Anyone driving an electric vehicle in San Francisco also has access to the HOV lane at all times.

Environmental Conditions
Boasting a fairly even temperature year round (much like Seattle) San Francisco is an ideal climate for EV ownership. Extreme weather can affect the range of an EV battery, but even in the coldest months, SF rarely sees snow or frost. On the other end of the spectrum, it also rarely reaches temperatures past the 90s. This type of even-keeled environment makes EV batteries very happy.

Portland, Oregon

Indiana State found Portland at the top of the list a few years back, but things can change quickly in the EV market. Portland still sits at number two, and there are many reasons why it is still the cream of the crop.

Charging Infrastructure
Portland has a generous network of charging stations, including an entire street of parking spaces for EVs known as “Electric Avenue.” SmartPark is a company that offers Level 1 and 2 charging stations throughout the city at various parking garages. Fees range from $1-$2. The city of Portland has also streamlined the process for residents to install stations at home.  According to a 2015 International Council on Clean Transportation survey, Portland has the “highest per-capita concentration of charging stations among the 25 largest U.S. cities.” In addition, Oregon has the best DC fast-charging infrastructure in the country, with over 48 quick-charge sites across 10 different highways. The city participates in the West Coast Electric Highway project that is creating a network of charging stations linking the west coast states. The project puts DC fast charging stations at every 25 to 50 miles along Interstate 5 and other major roadways in the Pacific Northwest. So now, Portland EV owners have access to longer trips.

Financial Incentive
House Bill 2092 gives EV buyers a $3,000 cash incentive they call “cash on the hood” for any resident at the time of purchase. This can also be applied towards a down payment, and in some cases, even a loan. Portland also offers tax credits for installing a charging station of up to $750 for individuals and 35% of the station cost for business owners.

Dealership Support
Dealership support in Portland is huge because of the local cash incentives for EV buyers—as well as the healthy charging network. Recently, Portland opened the first EV showroom in the United States, taking a massive amount of sales pressure off of the dealerships. Residents can now go to the showroom to learn everything they want to know about EVs prior to purchase.

Total Adoption
Oregon is the only state to appoint an “Electric Car Czar,” otherwise known as the Chief EV Officer at the Department of Transportation. The city’s policies are backed by a state government that is enthusiastic about EV ownership. Portland also has a program for those who want to convert a vehicle they already own to a plug-in. Oregon hats a state law that prohibits normal vehicles from parking in any EV spots in the city.

Environmental Conditions
Portland can get a little chilly and EV batteries are influenced by heater use. Range is affected on an EV vehicle when any other amenity is used that puts a strain on the battery. Naturally, the best climates for electric vehicles are in temperate weather, but having a slight chill is much better than excessive heat.

San Jose, California

With a booming Silicon Valley nourishing the EV market, it comes as no surprise that San Jose is currently #1 in the country for EV ownership. San Jose residents not only enjoy a plethora of financial incentives, they can practically park and charge their car anywhere in the city for free.

Charging Infrastructure
There are 379 charge points per million residents in San Jose. There are over 950 charging stations in the city, with 71 fast charge points. San Jose has an extensive workplace charging network as well, with over 1,400 workplace charge points available to employees. Additionally, there is a streamlined local charging permitting process. Currently, San Jose’s charging infrastructure is 4x that of the national average, which is what currently places it at number one on the list.

Financial Incentive
San Jose gives EV owners a tax break of $2,500 that can be paired with the federal incentive of $7,500. Pacific Gas and Electric also offers lower vehicle charging rates, data centers for education, and cost tools to assist EV owners. Additionally, because most owners can charge their vehicles at work and in the city for free, they barely ever have to spend anything on recharging. The key to optimum financial savings is a sound charging infrastructure.

Dealership Support
San Jose has a city population of 2 million people and an EV ownership of 10% (almost 10,000 vehicles sold). The city has the top vehicle uptake market in the U.S. with sales 13x the national average. “National Drive Electric Week” is a city-sponsored outreach program that provides information and puts on events for EV owners every year. Throughout all of these events, dealerships are involved the entire step of the way.

Total Adoption
The city government has a variety of promotions to help spur local EV uptake. This includes access to all HOV lanes, free city-owned charging stations, and free parking for all electric vehicles. San Jose currently has a goal for 100% alternative fueled vehicles in the municipal fleet by 2020.

Environmental Conditions
Unlike the neighboring city of San Francisco, San Jose can get pretty hot. Although some heat can improve battery efficiency, too much will degrade the output and life span. While San Jose is most likely to be the first to adopt electric vehicles with batteries unaffected by temperature, residents should still be informed about the effects of heat on the electric vehicles total range.

The Future of EV Ownership

The potential for electric vehicle ownership in the United States is fairly bright as long as local governments stay on track. Atlanta is one city where allowing a tax credit to expire severely affected the city’s EV sales. In order to compensate, they have now made it expensive for residents to register EVs. This is one example of what NOT to do.  Local governments are still learning from their mistakes. Many struggle to fund costly charging infrastructures while also spurring residents to purchase with financial incentives. One constant remains however, many cities have resolved to improve their carbon emissions, and a great piece to that puzzle is electric vehicle adoption.

As regional electric grids continue to decarbonize, emission reductions will skyrocket. Electric vehicles offer 30-90% in reduction compared to conventional vehicles.Therefore, electric vehicles are much more than a trend. They are tied into local policies, economics, and environmental concerns. The more we strive to put these vehicles on the road, the cleaner the air will be for future generations. And that’s what the bottom line really is.

Therefore, electric vehicles are much more than a trend. They are tied into local policies, economics, and environmental concerns. The more we strive to put these vehicles on the road, the cleaner the air will be for future generations. And that’s what the bottom line really is.

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