News and analysis about energy in California with an eye toward renewables.

S.F. Bay Area Nation's Fourth-Most Electric Vehicle-Ready 'City'

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom unveils EV charging stations in San Francisco in 2009, while serving as Mayor. | Photo: Gavin Newsom/Flickr/Creative Commons License

California doesn't fare very well in a ranking of U.S. cities by the amenities they offer electric vehicle (EV) owners released this week by the EV services company Xatori. Ranked by accessible vehicle charging stations per capita, the only California "city" that makes the list is the San Francisco Bay Area, and it only barely edges out Seattle and Orlando, Florida to make fourth place.

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Xatori ranks U.S. cities by the number of publicly accessible charging stations per 100,000 residents. The resulting list:

  1. Portland (11.0 chargers per 100,000 residents)
  2. Dallas (10.6 per 100,000)
  3. Nashville (8.2 per 100,000)
  4. SF Bay Area (6.6 per 100,000)
  5. Seattle (6.5 per 100,000)
  6. Orlando (6.3 per 100,000)
  7. Austin (5.3 per 100,000)
  8. Tucson (5.3 per 100,000)
  9. Honolulu (5.1 per 100,000)
  10. Washington, D.C. Area (4.7 per 100,000)

Xatori credits the seemingly unlikely high rankings of Dallas and Nashville to a couple of significant factors. Dallas' political leaders exhibit a remarkable level of support for building an EV infrastructure, while Nashville has a lot of public chargers due to the impending opening of a Nissan LEAF factory in Smyrna, 25 miles away. Portland leads the list because, well, it's Portland: a small, compact city with a very high percentage of environmentally concerned people affluent enough to buy a new car in the last couple of years.

Xatori doesn't break down its figures for the San Francisco Bay Area by city, but its PlugShare map indicates that charging stations are well-distributed through San Francisco, the East Bay, and San Jose areas, with even more in the eastern suburbs stretching to Sacramento.

Xatori is the company behind the "PlugShare" phone app and EV social network, in which EV enthusiasts can share their own charging stations to other drivers -- an interesting concept that may well reduce prospective EV buyers' range anxiety.

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About the Author

Chris Clarke is a natural history writer and environmental journalist currently at work on a book about the Joshua tree. He lives in Joshua Tree.
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