The Best Cities for Owning an Electric Car

Electric vehicles are a relatively new technology, and cities are still developing compatible infrastructures. Here are some of the best cities to own EVs right now.

November 9, 2021, 9:00 AM PST

By Devin Partida

Electric Cars

Sopotnicki / Shutterstock

After Tesla released its first electric vehicle (EV) on the market, consumers' interest in sustainable transportation increased. Many individuals are investing in EVs to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels. While green drivers can shrink their carbon footprints, they may face additional challenges based on the charging infrastructure available in their locations as other challenges like average commute lengths and weather.

EVs are a relatively new technology, and cities are still developing compatible infrastructure. There are currently six urban regions going above and beyond to integrate sustainable vehicles, but before examining these cities, let's assess the demand for eco-friendly transportation technology.

The Demand for Sustainable Transportation in Cities

The transportation sector was responsible for 29% of U.S. emissions in 2019 according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. A significant portion of the emissions come from expansive metropolitan regions, where many residents commute long distances to reach employment with few options for transportation outside of automobile trips.

In turn, densely populated areas can cause the urban heat island effect. High-emission regions with little vegetation produce ground-level ozone. When sunlight interacts with the ozone, it overproduces heat and raises city temperatures.

In the summer, the urban heat island effect can cause heatstroke and other adverse health effects. It's possible to reduce harmful health and ecological impacts by driving vehicles with zero tailpipe emissions.

EVs greatly reduce greenhouse emissions during use, reducing the adverse environmental effects associated with climate change (though not entirely). Drivers who want to shrink their carbon footprints or simply reduce their fuel costs are increasingly turning to electric vehicles, and vehicle manufacturers are responding to the increased demand. Companies like Chevrolet, for example, are converting their sports cars into EVs, offering luxury options for the eco-conscious driver.

While EVs effectively enhance ecological conservation, they are more accessible in some cities compared to others. San Francisco, Atlanta, Seattle, San Diego, Austin, and Los Angeles all lead in delivering EV-compatible infrastructures. Urban developers can evaluate their systems to replicate their approach elsewhere.

San Francisco

San Francisco is one of the most compatible green transportation cities. It has nearly 580 charging stations, increasing driver access to abundant electricity supplies. With accessible charging, installing home ports is unnecessary, helping individuals save money.

Drivers can save even more by investing in an affordable EV. The Smart EQ Fortwo and Nissan Leaf both cost less than $30,000, increasing all urban residents' access to emission-free transportation technology. About half of the city's electricity supply also comes from renewable sources, further decreasing the price and emissions associated with EV transportation.


Atlanta is another EV-compatible city, ranking sixth on the highest number of charging stations list. The stations also offer affordable power, costing around $0.90 per electric gallon (“e-gallon”). The city also normalized EV use, and about 20% of the transportation sector runs on clean energy.


Seattle also has a high number of charging stations, increasing drivers' access to electricity. It has nearly 724 stations, and 41% of them offer free electricity. Drivers in the city also pay zero sales tax on their EV purchases, enhancing sustainable technology's affordability.

Individuals are also eligible for a federal tax credit of up to $7,500 on average. Additionally, they may receive a one-time 8911 credit of nearly 30% of their EV purchase.

San Diego

San Diego is another city offering affordable EV driver refunds. When residents invest in sustainable transportation technology, they can receive $7,000 through the California Clean Vehicle Rebate. The city also has over 50 charging stations, helping drivers travel without concern.


Austin also has a significant number of charging stations, reaching nearly 640 this year. The stations also contain a variety of options, ranging from combined charging systems to fast chargers.

The city additionally offers a $1,200 rebate for individuals who install Wi-Fi-compatible chargers in their homes. The Austin Energy Plug-In Everywhere network also increases the affordability of EVs. It developed a program where drivers pay $4.17 a month for unlimited Level 2 charging around the city.

Los Angeles

Los Angeles has nearly 10,000 charging stations, making it the most compatible city with EVs. Individuals in the area are also eligible for the California Clean Vehicle Rebate, helping them save on transportation costs.

L.A. also provides cleaner travel options because most of its electricity derives from renewable resources. By 2035, the city plans to source 100% of its supply from clean energy. EVs may become the norm for personal transportation once the city decarbonizes its power system.

Creating an EV-Compatible City

Installing various charging stations is the first step towards enhancing a region's compatibility with emission-free vehicles. Charging stations must additionally work with the local government, developing tax incentives and additional rebates to increase the affordability of green technology.

Devin Partida

Devin Partida writes about current events, technology, and science. She is also the Editor-in-Chief of

Zoning Code Rendering

Which Cities Are Upzoning?

A recent study surveyed 800 jurisdictions in 50 U.S. metropolitan areas to quantify the amount of change in zoning regulations throughout the 21st century so far.

November 17, 2021 - Journal Of The American Planning Association

NYC Subway Construction

RAISE Grants Announced: U.S. DOT Shifts to a Greener Vision for Transportation

News broke early this morning the U.S. Department of Transportation had announced the first round of funding for the Biden administration's new discretionary grant funding program.

November 19, 2021 - U.S. Department Of Transportation

Montgomery County

Land Costs and Housing Costs

One common argument against upzoning is that it increases land costs—but land costs rose in the most restrictive markets as well as the least restrictive ones.

November 18, 2021 - Michael Lewyn

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Hand Drawing Master Plans

This course aims to provide an introduction into Urban Design Sketching focused on how to hand draw master plans using a mix of colored markers.