The Best and Worst Cities for Electric Cars

By April 2, 2020 Blog

A cold city like Milwaukee means lower EV battery efficiency

Today in the EV Connect Blog we’re looking at some of the best cities for electric cars, and some of the worst.

Best Electric Car Cities: Close to Interstate 5

Many of the best cities for electric cars are the major cities of the West Coast, linked together by the I-5 corridor that runs from Canada to Mexico. The West Coast, with its sprawling cities and long travel distances, has always relied heavily on cars to move people around.

This reliance on personal cars, together with the West Coast’s concerted effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and its strong culture of technological innovation, has spurred its cities to lead the way in rolling out EV incentives and infrastructure. Here are some of the best electric car cities on the West Coast.

Los Angeles & San Diego

Los Angeles is the ultimate car city. LA sprawls out so far that it can take you two hours just to drive from one end to the other, even if the traffic is good. It wasn’t all that long ago that you couldn’t get anywhere in LA without a car, and, while mass transit accessibility has greatly improved in the past 20 years, most Angelinos still rely on their own personal set of wheels.

Today, Los Angeles is more than just the ultimate car city. It’s also the ultimate electric car city. There are many reasons: A spirit of innovation. A sense of environmental responsibility. And of course there’s the pragmatic fact that in California gasoline does not come cheap, which means that sitting in traffic for two hours each day is not exactly easy on the wallet.

It’s no wonder that LA has been one of the world’s leading hotbeds for EV sales and the deployment of EV charging infrastructure. Here at EV Connect we have many customers in the greater Los Angeles area, including commercial fleet managers, transit agencies, and enterprise customers such as hotels, who use our networking solutions and cloud platform to manage, and optionally monetize, the EV charging stations on their parking lots.

Meanwhile, a little bit farther south, San Diego is another great electric car city—largely for the same reasons of high fuel costs, a strong culture of environmental responsibility, and long driving distances. EV ownership is on the grow, and the local authorities as well as private businesses are adding massive new public charging infrastructure.

San Francisco, San Jose, and Sacramento

It’s probably no surprise that some of the absolute best electric car cities are right here in the heart of our modern tech sector. San Francisco, San Jose, and the other cities of the Bay Area, along with the nearby state capital of Sacramento, are well-known for their investments in EV charging stations available to the public.

Tesla is especially popular here, and the sheer number of wealthy IT workers who can afford high-end electric vehicles means that you’ll never go far in one of these cities without seeing a shiny new EV pass by.

A little distance to the east, Sacramento has hundreds of public EV charging stations. Many are free to use, and nearly all of them are the faster Level 2 chargers that can replenish most of a battery in just an hour or two. It’s no wonder Sacramento is such a good electric car city: As home to the state’s government, they have a strong motivation to practice what they preach when it comes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Seattle & Portland

Up farther north, in the Pacific Northwest states of Oregon and Washington, two of the best cities for electric cars are Portland and Seattle. Known for their progressive mindset, these cities are big promoters of alternative transportation, particularly bicycles.

When it comes to motorized transportation, electric cars are seen as the way of the future around here: Both of these electric car cities have been making tremendous investments in expanding EV charging infrastructure so that the public will have access to the charging stations they need in order to drive their electric vehicles wherever they want.

Here’s another feather in Seattle’s cap: Washington State’s heavy reliance on hydroelectric power means that much of the electricity used to charge EVs is completely emissions-free.

The Best Cities for Electric Cars Outside the West Coast

Beyond the West Coast, there are many other great electric car cities. In the Northeast, cities like Boston and Baltimore are leading the way. Down in the Lone Star State, the City of Austin is pushing hard to promote EV adoption and supply the necessary infrastructure.

And here’s an unexpected one: Honolulu! If you’re lucky enough to live out there, Honolulu is well ahead of the curve.

What About the Worst Electric Car Cities?

We’ve looked at some of the best cities for electric cars. But what about some of the bad electric car cities? As it turns out, there are a number of factors that can make EVs less attractive. Some of the biggest ones are extreme heat and cold, dirty electricity, and lack of political support for EV charging infrastructure.

Phoenix & Minneapolis – St. Paul

Phoenix is one of the hottest, sunniest cities in the country. This kind of exposure to extreme heat, especially under constant sunlight, degrades a battery over time, meaning that EV batteries develop problems earlier and their lifespans are noticeably shorter.

The frigid northern cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul are bad electric car cities for the opposite reason: EV batteries last a long time, but in these extreme cold temperatures their efficiency is very low, meaning a reduced operating range. This only gets worse when you factor in the need to run the heater constantly in order to keep the cabin warm.

To be fair, all of these cities are making worthy efforts to expand EV charging station availability, and you can definitely use electric vehicles here. They’re just not as efficient or cost-effective.

Other Problematic Electric Car Cities

There are some places where the city itself is the problem. When local governments drag their feet on building public EV charging infrastructure, or otherwise discourage public adoption of electric vehicles, that means charging stations will be harder to find. There probably also won’t be as many (if any) local incentives to offset the price of an electric vehicle.

The pace of change is often slow, and not everyone can be a trailblazer. Some cities are destined to play catch-up. But sooner or later they’ll have to become electric car cities too, because EVs are here to stay.

Get EV Charging Solutions from EV Connect

One of the biggest factors that makes a city favorable for electric vehicles is the availability of EV charging infrastructure. And that’s where we come in: We provide comprehensive EV charging solutions to local governments, transit agencies, fleet operators, landlords, and enterprise customers. Our technology can help you increase ROI on your parking lots, monitor and monetize your charging stations, and attract EV drivers.

Contact us today to get more information.

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