5 Cheapest Cities to Own an Electric Vehicle

Source: Hyundai

As the second generation of electric vehicles begins to roll out across America, it’s time to check on what markets are succeeding. We recently explored the challenges the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic markets have been facing, but head west and there are plenty of success stories in EV adoption and clean grid technology.

In fact, Oregon has shown it does not even take purchase incentives to boost electric car sales. The state is doing the job with robust charging infrastructure around Portland, a network that saves drivers approximately $2,000 over six years, according to the International Council on Clean Transportation. However, owning and operating an EV in Portland would still cost more than the average non-hybrid vehicle would.

Another study by the ICCT showed where electric vehicle owners are actually getting the better of their gasoline counterparts. Despite the higher purchase costs, the equation slants an EV owner’s way when lower fueling and maintenance costs factor in after a six-year period. Purchase incentives, HOV lane access, support for home charging, waived registration fees, and public charging access make it a total win in some U.S. cities.

Here are the five cities where owning an EV is the most affordable for consumers. The ICCT got its numbers using 2014 sales data. Since Georgia no longer has its $5,000 purchase incentive, we removed Atlanta from the top five.

5. Riverside, Calif.

Riverside County Expected To Lead California Population Growth
David McNew/Getty Images

Though certainly the most low-profile city on this list, Riverside (outside of Los Angeles) is home to a robust charging network and has the factors that make an EV affordable. Most benefits come from the state, including access to the carpool lane (single occupancy or not) and the California state incentive that now has income restrictions. Owning an electric car in Riverside costs about $37,000 over a six-year period, just slightly above the average for a car running at 34 miles per gallon on gas ($36,000).

4. Seattle


Seattle is a familiar name on the list of cities where EVs are making headway. In the last statistic check, it had the third-highest rate of adoption for electric cars. ChargePoint named it the third-best city for EV driving overall based on the number of chargers that were available to drivers. According to the ICCT, owning a plug-in costs about $36,500 over six years in Seattle, just slightly above the average for an efficient gas car. Washington state incentives play a role in this affordability.

3. San Francisco

San Francisco's Famed Cable Car Fare To Increase
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Like other California cities, San Francisco is a place where EV drivers benefit from public policy that is bullish on electrified transportation. HOV lane access, local charging networks, state incentives, and other factors actually make it cheaper to own an electric vehicle ($35,000) than a gasoline car ($36,000) in the City by the Bay. You probably can’t picture Jimmy Stewart following Kim Novak through the Praesidio in a Nissan Leaf, but times have changed in San Francisco. Grab a plug.

2. Los Angeles

People take a holiday stroll against the

Any way you figure it, Los Angeles is one of the best places to drive an electric car. So many public chargers make it impossible to get range anxiety, even if the New York Times claims people are brawling over plugs. California incentives make carpool lane access, purchase rebates, and free charging around town part of the package when you buy an EV. Over six years of ownership, the data showed drivers pay less for an electric car ($34,000) than they would an efficient gas car.

1. Denver

Atlanta Braves v Colorado Rockies
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Though Atlanta had the lowest cost of ownership in the ICCT study, Georgia has eliminated the generous plug-in incentive that had spurred sales so impressively in recent years. As a result, that $5,000 credit is gone. Denver, listed at No. 2 on the list with a $33,000 cost of EV ownership over six years, is the most affordable city standing. A generous $6,000 tax credit (the maximum) is offered above the $7,500 federal credit, which severely slashes purchases prices and gets EV drivers on the right track. With gasoline out of the equation, it’s easy to hold the line.

Source: ICCT Blog

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