The likelihood that your town is electric vehicle-friendly depends on many factors. First of all, it helps if you live in one of the areas where the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf were first issued.
Another boost comes if you live in one of the 25 cities selected for the EV Project, a U.S. Department of Energy-funded charging infrastructure project managed by ECOtality.
The last straw is local support -- from both politicians and the utility.
Here are the top 10 most EV-ready cities in the U.S., per PlugShare data for public charging locations per 100,000 residents based on 2010 Census data:
|SF Bay Area||
|Washington, D.C. Area||4.7|
PlugShare has more than 100,000 users and maps more than 11,000 charging stations across North America, up from 500 stations when the app launched a year ago. "We knew it was going to grow," said Forrest North, Xatori Founder and CEO, "but we didn’t envision it was going to grow that fast." He also noted that fast charging was growing faster than his company had anticipated.
The data gives a fairly comprehensive picture of some of the early trends for EV enthusiasts.
“PlugShare’s success is largely thanks to the EV community at large, and we’re committed to helping provide new products and services that help engage with them,” North said in a statement. “With the information we gather on charging stations and driving behaviors, we hope to inform the EV industry to continue to develop solutions that support and further the shift to electric vehicles.”
Many of the cities on the list, such as Portland and San Francisco, are hardly surprising, but there are a few locales that offer insights into how to build a successful EV charging network.
One of the only cities to make the list that was not a part of the EV Project is Orlando, which is a focus area for CarCharging, a charging service based in Florida. Dallas, which is part of the EV Project, is also one of the cities that NRG Energy has chosen for its eVgo charging network, which could also be expanded to California.
Honolulu also makes the list. With the high price of gas, Hawaii seems like a natural fit for EVs, and Honolulu was a test bed for Better Place. However, it’s unclear whether Better Place’s technology will be a chosen solution on the mainland. Currently, most states and the top 10 cities are choosing Level II charging stations, while Better Place's core business is around battery swapping.
According to PlugShare data, Coulomb Technologies' ChargePoint leads the installation with about 33 percent of the registered stations in its network. Overall, Coulomb claims more than 9,000 stations. ECOtality’s Blink charger comes in second on PlugShare’s list, with more than 2,000 chargers registered in the app. However, it’s an incomplete picture, as nearly half of the chargers are considered “non-networked” by PlugShare, meaning that they cannot wirelessly report usage.
Additional data from PlugShare also reinforces what other early data has shown. The bulk of charging is happening at home, and most of it is Level 2 (220/240 volt). Sixty percent of users do not charge at work at all, while only 3 percent of EV drivers never charge at home.
The average driver who uses the app spends about $30 per month on electricity for the car and drives 1050 miles.
With a proliferation of apps and data, charging networks will be able to fine-tune their pricing options, cities will be able to best evaluate where charging should go (and if you need to police the open spots) and how fast it should be, and if the cost of the cars can truly compete with a gas-powered vehicle, we could be in the early days of a revolution. "We do know the OEMs are trying to reach that next level of buyer," said North. "Through information, we’re trying to make this as seamless a transition to ‘this is possible.'"