Top EV Friendly Cities in the US

Last spring, the Ford Motor Co. identified what it thinks are the 25 most electric vehicle-ready cities across the USA. Researchers explored cities that had: Utility rate structures that encouraged “off-peak” charging for electric vehicles, available and planned infrastructure for charging stations, advisory committees to further develop and promote EV use and development incentives for electric parking spots and charging stations.

So what cities made the Ford list? (in no particular order):

  • Atlanta
  • Hartford, Conn
  • Raleigh, N.C
  • Austin, Texas
  • Honolulu
  • Richmond, Va.
  • Baltimore
  • Houston
  • Sacramento, Calif.
  • Boston
  • Indianapolis
  • San Diego
  • Charlotte, N.C.
  • Los Angeles
  • San Francisco Bay Area
  • Chicago
  • New York
  • Seattle
  • Dallas
  • Orlando, Fla.
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Denver
  • Phoenix
  • Detroit
  • Portland, Ore.

It’s not surprising, pretty much every major city across the country made this list. So, who’s really the best? Well, General Electric made their own top 10 list of the best cities for electric vehicles — but based it on completely different criteria. GE and Deloitte researchers examined 2009 data from the U.S. Census that showed commuting habits for the 25 largest U.S. metro areas for the population within 50 miles of the city’s center. Results start with the best city suited for electric vehicles based on commuters:

  1. Dallas
  2. Houston
  3. Detroit
  4. St. Louis
  5. Atlanta

So this list is really more about where EV’s could thrive. Which cities are well “suited” for EVs. And again, all of these cities, minus St. Louis, also made Ford’s list. So it seems like Dallas, Houston, Detroit and Atlanta are leading the pack.

As mentioned previously, most of these top EV cities shouldn’t come as a surprise. They are big cities with huge populations and huge working/commuting populations — of course they have a lot of electric vehicle drivers right? But there is one city that might stand out to you for various reasons: Detroit.

Detroit is the Motor City, but can it get back to its glory days with electric vehicles? According to a report by one of my former colleagues, yes. This past summer, auto executives gave a keynote address at a Detroit Economic Club luncheon, that said Michigan will account for 20 percent of all lithium-ion batteries made for the automotive industry by 2015. Two Michigan companies specifically, A123 Systems and Dow Kokam, are set to manufacture a big chunk of those batteries, to address what experts say is a $15 billion market by 2015.

But being a producer of EV batteries and holding recognition for historically manufacturing gas guzzlers is quite different from actually being an EV friendly city. Sure, the Volt is a great car (and we’re glad it’s finally here after the EV1 fiasco) but is Detroit really a leader in this space? Well, according to the site CarStaions it does contain quite a few charging stations, even rivaling the West Coast of the US. And Chevy Volts, although not hitting certain sales targets (less than half of of the 10,000 goal for 2011), continue to roll off the line in Michigan and have, understandably, become the staple of electric vehicles for the state.

So cheers to Detroit on plugging in and going electric and congrats to the cities that have made these lists. Considering the influence of companies like Tesla and Toyota that have major operations in the Bay Area, along with the abundance of wealthy citizens living there, this is always a geography worth keeping an eye on. Companies like ChargePoint lead the way with networked charging infrastructure and no matter who’s in first, we all win as more clean transportation options reach economies of scale.