How the Largest U.S. Cities Are Embracing Electric Vehicles
Jeffrey Heimgartner posted on October 05, 2020 |
The ICCT highlights adoption trends for electric vehicles based on the 50 most populous metro areas.

The electric vehicle (EV) market continues its upward trend and greater adoption globally with approximately 2.2 million sold in 2019. With China in the lead followed by Europe, which is set to potentially surpass the former in 2020, the United States stayed steady in third place with 320,000 sales. To better understand its place in the market, a new briefing by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) breaks down various factors associated with U.S. adoption of EVs based on the 50 most populous cities, which accounted for 80 percent of U.S. sales.



The top 50 most populous U.S. cities accounted for 80 percent of 2019 EV sales. (Image courtesy of ICCT.)
The top 50 most populous U.S. cities accounted for 80 percent of 2019 EV sales. (Image courtesy of ICCT.)

While the environmental benefits may be enough for some consumers to make the switch, numerous factors play into that. High price tags, model availability, range charging, infrastructure needs and the roads themselves, among other perhaps more personal factors, have influenced some resistance to mass adoption. In many areas, promotional activities and government policies are helping to address those barriers.

Charging, both at home and on the road, continues to be among the top concerns for consumers. Based on the availability of direct current (DC) fast chargers and Level 2 public chargers per million in population, only 14 percent of chargers were DC. California leads the pack with 60 to 180 DC fast chargers and 400 to 1,200 Level 2 chargers per city capita. In September, Electrify America, one of the largest open DC fast-charging networks, opened eight free solar-powered charging stations across Fresno County. The company is one of many expanding access to rural and low-income areas, which may perhaps lead the way for others to follow suit in other areas of the U.S.

Eight new solar-powered free EV charging stations recently opened in Fresno County, Calif. The stations are able to operate at night and during inclement weather. (Image courtesy of Electrify America.)
Eight new solar-powered free EV charging stations recently opened in Fresno County, Calif. The stations are able to operate at night and during inclement weather. (Image courtesy of Electrify America.)

Meanwhile, cities like Kansas City, Mo., and Austin, Tex., which have a high number of Level 2 chargers, have few fast-charging options. More than half of the metro areas reviewed had fewer than 30 DC fast chargers. Although the numbers are low, many utility companies, states and cities are preparing to change that. Since a number of cities strive to move toward an EV fleeting, places such as Buffalo, N.Y., are building their own chargers.

Infrastructure investments by utility companies is another necessary measure. According to the briefing, National Grid and Consolidated Edison of New York provided up to $7,500 and $4,000 for DC fast chargers, while $1.4 billion in utility infrastructure investments are still pending for California.

Many of those investments came about, in part, due to changes in emissions policies. Colorado and Washington have joined other states in adopting zero-emission regulations, including sales goals to achieve a higher percentage of EVs on the road. That may provide enough incentive for consumers to make the switch. Washington is offering tax exemptions for purchasing a new EV, while Connecticut, New York and Pennsylvania are offering rebates on EV purchases.

Electric vehicle shares of new vehicles and available consumer incentives in the 50 most populous U.S metropolitan areas. New vehicle registration data are from IHS Markit. (Image courtesy of ICCT.)
Electric vehicle shares of new vehicles and available consumer incentives in the 50 most populous U.S metropolitan areas. New vehicle registration data are from IHS Markit. (Image courtesy of ICCT.)

While the briefing offers an even more in-depth look at the EV market, including information on the manufacturer, top vehicles and other vital elements to the next generation of transportation, it is clear that change is underway across the a board, albeit a little slower in some areas. Even though the market was down, the fact that major cities and states are making changes marks a growing trend of embracing an electric future.


Interested in new EV options on the horizon? Check out Cadillac’s First All-Electric Vehicle Will Feature GM’s New Ultium Batteries and Impala Out, Electric In at GM: Is Electric Ready for the Mass Market?.

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