Top 10 Cities For Commuting By Electric Car

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Via Wikimedia Commons

Via Wikimedia Commons

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We've taken a look recently at the five EVs we're most looking forward to driving, and another look at the five EVs you should do your best to see at the upcoming 2010 Los Angeles Auto Show. We're clearly at the beginning of something big for personal transportation, an age where electric travel is genuinely a viable option for some consumers. The 20,000 reservations already put down on the 2011 Nissan Leaf are testament to this.

We're the first to admit they have their limitations though, and range could be considered one of these. However, if you're a city dweller and your daily commute is within the hundred mile range that many new EVs manage, then they could be just what you're looking for - provided your city is one of the ten below, who are the best candidate cities for commutes by EV.

The Top Ten

1. Dallas, Texas - Setting aside the fact that Texas is already one of the States chosen for various EV deployments and networks, Dallas is also geographically ideal. 2.78 million commuters live within 50 miles of the city center and 91.5 percent currently drive to work. The suburbs of Denton, Frisco and McKinney are all within 50 miles, as is the city of Ft. Worth.

2. Houston, Texas - 2.46 million commuters, almost 91 percent of whom already commute by car, live within 50 miles of downtown. Suburbs within 50 miles include Baytown, Texas City and The Woodlands.

3. Detroit, Michigan - 92.6 percent of Motor City's 1.65 million commuters in suburbs like Ann Arbor, Rochester Hills and Monroe drive to work, and live within 50 miles of the center.

4. St. Louis, Missouri - Of St. Louis' 1.21 million commuters, 91.2 percent drive to work. Suburbs within 50 miles of the city center include Cedar Hill, Festus and Lake St. Louis.

5. Atlanta, Georgia - 87.8 percent of Atlanta's 2.21 million commuters drive to work, and several suburbs including Canton, Lawrenceville and Newman are within a 50 mile radius.

6. Miami, Florida - Over 88 percent of Miami's 2.16 million commuters drive to work. Coral Springs, Ft. Lauderdale and Homestead are all within 50 miles.

7. Phoenix, Arizona - If you live in Apache City, Junction or Sun City West, you find yourself within a fifty mile range of the center of Phoenix. You'll also be one of the 1.67 million commuters, 88.2 percent of whom currently drive to work.

8. Tampa, Florida - The second Florida city in the list, making it quite an EV-friendly place to live. 89.8 percent of Tampa's million-plus commuters drive to work, and the suburbs of Bradenton, Lakeland and Spring Hill are all within 50 miles.

9. Cincinnati, Ohio - The suburbs of Hamilton, Springboro and Williamstown (Kentucky) are all within commuting range of Cincinnati, and 90.8 percent of the city's 923,000 commuters currently drive in.

10. Sacramento, California - California's capital has over 800,000 commuters, 87.3 percent of whom drive to work. Surely their journeys would be better served by EVs? With California being an EV hub and increasingly rife with charging points you could feasibly travel a good distance, but Arbuckle, Fairfield and Yuba City are all within 50 miles of Sacramento.

Location, Location, Location

50 Kw Leaf Charger

50 Kw Leaf Charger

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Of course, convenient geography is one thing, but infrastructure is quite another. For many, the ability to charge at work, or at the mall or whilst you're out at the pictures could be an important sticking point.

We've previously debated whether a charging infrastructure is a prerequisite for the success of electric cars, since for many people the charger in their garage at home will cover the majority of their journeys, and with many workplaces making pledges to install charge points that's the two main bases covered.

For these people, a 50 mile commute should be easily served by the average EV. A Nissan Leaf can achieve around 100 miles in normal driving. Coda reckons their Sedan can do as much as 120 miles. You'll get around 40 miles from a 2011 Chevrolet Volt, though of course if your commute is longer the range-extending engine won't leave you stranded. Another upcoming EV, Mitsubishi's 2012 i-MiEV, has struggled in some tests to get more than 40-50 miles, so perhaps that's best left for those who live closer to where they work.

Since GM claim that the majority of journeys are less than 40 miles (hence their choice of a battery to provide this range), many thousands of commuters in the cities listed above might find that an electric car provides them with all they need.

[General Electric, Nissan via Family Car Guide]

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Comments (4)
  1. home charge point IF one is in the first 4400 Volt deliveries. The Sacramento County public utility district has federal grant money to install charge points throughout the metropolitan region and has some of the lowest basic electricity rates around anyway.
    We have both the LEAF and the VOLT on order for delivery in the first stage of actual customer access; they will replace a Camry Hybrid and a Prius. My wife has no more than an 11 mile commute to her work at UC, Davis and my commute is 9.5 miles to California State Univ., Sacramento. I am waiting to hear what work-site charge point options will be installed at UC, Davis, but CSU, Sacramento will be getting 8-12 or so EV charge points installed in the next 6 months. There is already one of the new charge point installations at a car wash in the downtown area.

  2. If you read Nikki Bloomfield's article today on this website you'll see that you left out the best city in America for commuting by electric car, Seattle, Washington. Level 2 chargers you're after, then read this:
    Announced last week, ECOtality, Inc. aims to install 1,200 Level 2 charging stations along the Puget Sound coastline, and 22 high-power DC fast charge stations, capable of charging cars like the 2011 Nissan Leaf from empty to 80% full in under 30 minutes.
    I gotta get back to my homeland, I miss the Seattle area so much and they are your top all-electric adopter city. Meet me in Seattle for an NBA game (when David Stern pulls his head out of his ass and treats Seattle with some respect, that is, and helps Seattle get another NBA team like the one that was stolen from them by Clay Bennett and his Oklahoma City cronies)and a Starbuck's or two, OK?

  3. @ B-Man - Seattle is definitely one of the top cities for electric car owners thanks to charging facilities, but the ten cities above have been selected for the proportion of commuters who'd benefit from driving an EV thanks to the convenient commuting distance. I'd urge you to check out the article on Family Car Guide I referenced at the bottom for a more in-depth take on it :)

  4. Just about every city would be a perfect for EV's. Only in the more remote rural areas does the limited range of current EV's make them a bad choice. a 100 mile BEV will likely thrive in city environments everywhere. That's not to say they would work for everyone that lives in a city, but they will work for many.

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