5 Best U.S. Cities for Electric Vehicle Buyers

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Source: Ford

If you are considering an electric vehicle purchase, there is more than range, cost, and style to consider. Every EV driver should think about handling daily charging and whether a home system makes sense for your living situation. The practical concerns are more intimidating than those of your average gas guzzler.

Of course, the benefits are greater as well. In addition to the lower emissions and silent drive you get in an EV, buyers often have purchase incentives and high-occupancy-vehicle (HOV) lane access on state roads. You may even get free charging for a year when you buy certain models.

How easy it is to drive an EV depends on where you live. These concerns, filed under the “EV readiness” of a particular city, were the subject of a 2016 study conducted by Indiana University (IU) researchers. A team from IU and Purdue looked at the charging infrastructure, incentives, HOV lane access, and other factors to come up with ratings for EV-friendly cities, and the results are surprising.

Here are the top five cities for plug-in vehicle readiness in America, according to the study’s findings.

5. Denver

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Though smack dab in the heart of coal and gas country, Denver is a great place to live when you drive an electric car. Colorado incentives remain among the highest in the country, allowing buyers to take home new models for under $10,000. Hence the high adoption rate in the state and its biggest city, despite the fact the energy grid is largely powered by fossil fuels.

4. New York

Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images
Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images

Who thinks of New York as the ideal place for electric vehicles? Actually, the better question is how many New Yorkers have seen an EV, ever, in the city. (We’ll field that one: Very few.) Charging stations are hidden inside pricey parking garages, reserving the option for the wealthiest residents.

Another drawback is the lack of a state purchase incentive. In fact, we’re having a hard time understanding how NYC could end up in the top five. Sure, there is the HOV lane access on the L.I.E., but that doesn’t even apply to intracity driving. Los Angeles, which placed sixth in this study, is light-years ahead of the Big Apple when it comes to electric cars. IU researchers saw it another way.

3. Baltimore

BALTIMORE, MD - APRIL 26: Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake speaks at a press conference at Bethel AME Church, April 26, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. Freddie Gray's funeral is scheduled for Monday morning. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

In Baltimore, you can start with $3,000 tax credit available to Maryland residents, which has you knocking $10,500 off the MSRP once you get the federal credit in the mix. It may not be Colorado, but that’s a healthy discount nonetheless. There are also 700 charging stations available in a metro area where EV density is far from, say, San Francisco or San Diego. If you live in Baltimore and are considering an EV, the city is ready.

2. Washington, D.C.

Car Charging Group Inc. opened it's the first residential electric car charging station at the 435 Mass Apartments on January 12, 2011 in the NW section of Washington, DC. The station can charge two cars at a time; one with a 220 volt line and one with a standard 110 volt household line. AFP PHOTO / Tim Sloan (Photo credit should read TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images)
TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images

There is a veritable laundry list of incentives for plug-in car drivers in D.C. HOV lane access, discounted insurance, tax credits, waived emissions inspections, and reduced registration fees are just a few we’ll mention. For a city with fewer than 700,000 residents, there are plenty of charging stations to access as well. If the 425 Mass Apartments chargers are any indication, there is space available.

1. Portland

PORTLAND, OREGON - OCTOBER 6: A bicycle commuter rides past a Stumptown Coffee location on SE Division Street on October 6, 2015 in Portland, Oregon. Stumptown's owner and founder Duane Sorenson has confirmed that the company will be acquired by Peet's Coffee & Tea, according to published reports. Stumptown, which reportedly will operate independently after the aqcquisition, operates 10 stores in Portland, Seattle, New York and Los Angeles. (Photo by Craig Mitchelldyer/Getty Images)
Craig Mitchelldyer/Getty Images)

Portland always ranks among the top 10 U.S. cities for EV drivers, and in the IU study it topped the pack. Oregon is among the elite when factoring in EV outreach and public charging infrastructure. While there is no purchase incentive per se, Oregonians may get up to $750 off the cost of a home charger installation. Add in the hydroelectric power behind the grid and you have a city that is fully ready for more citizens to drive electric with barely any emissions.

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