Electric vehicle sales are setting records in the U.S. The latest numbers suggest people bought more than 350,000 EVs in 2018. Keep in mind that the term "record" is relative, especially given that Ford sold about 900,000 F-series pickups in the same year. But in some West Coast cities, electric vehicles nearly 20% of all new vehicle sales.
Many cities are realizing that encouraging EV ownership by adding public charging stations, offering financial incentives, and other non-revenue perks can reduce particulate emissions from automobile tailpipes. That policy can also be a powerful incentive for high-income and often younger people to become residents. The experts at the International Council on Clean Transportation took a look at how the 50 biggest cities in the U.S. are answering the rise in EV sales. The ten cities here represent the top of the list for electric vehicle owners, and people who want to buy them.
10 Denver, Colorado
In addition, the state of Colorado offers incentives for people who purchase EVs, while the city of Denver has a dedicated electric vehicle policy, and building codes are already in place for people who want to install their own fast-charging stations at their residences. In all, the ICCT says Denver offers 23 of a potential 37 state, local, and utility incentives for owners and purchasers of EVs.
Baltimore residents can also take advantage of Maryland’s incentives for EV purchase, including reduced state fees. The city of Baltimore is also encouraging rideshare drivers to use electric vehicles as part of a citywide program.
When that EV does need a charge, the city’s got the owner covered: ChargeHub says the city of Seattle has 767 charging stations (94% Level 2), and 37% of those chargers can be used for free.
The home of the Red Sox is trying to get drivers to go green and has a lot of enticements available for people thinking about going electric. The state of Massachusetts offers purchase incentives and reduced fees for EVs, and Boston kicks in a break on parking fees for electric vehicles as well as an electric car-sharing program and EV-ready building codes.
The infrastructure is there too. ChargeHub says EV drivers will find 661 public charging stations (91% Level 2), and more than 26% of them will juice up that ride for free. The ICCT says people living in Boston can take advantage of 26 potential state, local, and utility incentives and support programs, out of a possible 37.
6 New York
ChargeHub’s census-takers say New York has 1,148 public charging stations available (92% Level 2). And who says you can’t get anything for free in The Big Apple? Fuhgeddaboutit! 23% of those stations offer EV charging for free.
5 Portland, Oregon
In addition, Portland hosts a national conference every year dedicated to electric and smart mobility solutions. The Roadmap Conference was originally launched by Portland General Electric and Portland State University but now is run by its own nonprofit organization.
4 San Diego
The city’s charging network shows it is serious about its commitment. ChargeHub counts 918 public charging stations in San Diego (93% Level 2), and 20% of them will charge a vehicle for free.
3 Los Angeles/Riverside
Both cities have plenty of places to plug in, too: 1,982 in Los Angeles (92% Level 2), and 292 in Riverside (74% Level 2), according to ChargeHub. Notably, almost a third of Riverside’s stations offer free charging, while LA will only charge for free at 18% of its stations.
2 San Francisco/San Jose
Both cities have state purchase incentives to offer, including additional incentives from the local electric utility and single-driver HOV lane access. While San Jose has a smaller percentage of free charging stations than San Francisco, it also gives EV drivers a break on parking. So there’s that.
ChargeHub counts 496 meters in the city (87% are Level 2), and a third of them are free to use. People living in Sacramento have state, local and utility purchase incentives available to them. EV drivers in the capital get a break on parking, preferential electric rates from the local utility, and help to install their own home chargers.