- 8 of the top 10 best metros for EV driving are on the West Coast, with five of them located in California
- San Jose is the ultimate EV metro overall, including for renters
Due to the scarcity of public electric vehicle (EV) charging stations or their availability in rental communities, it can be challenging for renters across the U.S. to drive guilt-free. However, certain locations – like San Jose, CA, are becoming more sustainable and catering to both homeowners and renters. In fact, overall, California is the best state for driving electric cars.
Clearly, the benefits of owning an electric car are plentiful, from contributing to the welfare of the planet to saving a significant amount of money in the long run. Still, the concept of electric vehicles (EVs) is relatively new and implementation is proving to be quite the process.
Eco-friendly Driving Not Just for Homeowners: These are the Best EV-Friendly Metros for Renters
Embracing the latest and most eco-friendly innovations while being a renter can pose a challenge. That’s because initiatives to support the EV rollout are still in progress across the nation, as well as globally. And, often, it can be easier for homeowners to install and use electrical charging stations in their homes, whereas renters require access to public chargers.
Even so, certain metros are already on the right path to support renters in their efforts to go green. Recently, StorageCafe looked into the best cities for renters who drive an electric car and unveiled the top metros with the largest share of apartment buildings that have EV charging stations.
San Jose, CA, is the ultimate leader of the race, proving that its residents’ high interest in eco-friendly solutions and the available infrastructure make it easy for both homeowners and renters to drive guilt-free. Here, 12.3% of all rental units are located in apartment buildings with EV charging stations – the highest share in the nation at the moment, as well as more than quadruple the national average of 3.2% of apartment buildings that offer this amenity. Sarasota, FL is next in line, with 9.1% of its rental units offering the EV-charging feature, thereby making it easier for renters to embrace the EV lifestyle. Coming in at a close third, Denver, CO is also catering to the eco-friendly needs of modern renters, with 8.6% of its rental spaces offering the EV charging feature.
Serving as further evidence that the sunny state of California is constantly making efforts to adopt environmentally conscious measures, San Francisco and Los Angeles are also part of the top 10 most renter-friendly metros when it comes to EV chargers: San Francisco ranks fifth, with 7% of its rental buildings offering charging stations. A little further down the list, Los Angeles comes in at 8th place, with 6.4% of all of its rentals having access to EV charging stations.
Not to be outdone, Florida brings the East Coast into the race and checks in two big metros in the top 10 friendliest EV hubs for renters: In addition to Sarasota, Cape Coral also helps drive Florida’s efforts by coming in at the 9th position and ensuring accessibility to EV chargers in 6.3% of its apartment buildings. And, while EVs previously seemed to be more accessible for homeowners, tides are now beginning to shift.
“My opinion is that EV ownership will grow mostly from the suburbs first, which is where we’re seeing most adoption today,” said John Helveston, PhD, assistant professor at The George Washington University School of Engineering & Applied Sciences. “Suburban dwellers usually own their homes, which means they usually have dedicated parking (e.g. a driveway or garage), and they have the right to install a level two charger at home.”
What’s more, with the concept of renters by choice on the rise and renters increasingly migrating toward suburban homes, renters are now gaining more accessibility to sustainable options, like EV driving. In fact, in one of our latest reports, we found that 103 suburbs across the nation had transitioned to renter-majority in the past decade, meaning that more renters are fleeing big cities in search of more space, as well as the quiet, relaxed suburban lifestyle which can also provide them with convenient EV charging stations. While implementation and accessibility are still a work in progress, the future seems bright and electric for all types of residents.
“Over time, as battery technologies improve and more public charging infrastructure gets installed, both of these types of residents [homeowners and renters] will eventually be better served by EVs”, Helveston said.
The West Coast is the Biggest Adopter of the Green Lifestyle: San Jose, San Francisco & Seattle are the Top 3 Best Metros for EVs
At the national level, electric cars are already ruling the streets in some of the U.S.’s largest metros. To that end, StorageCafe broke down the data to see which of the 100 most populous U.S. metros were best suited for the EV mindset and the West Coast is the clear leader.
Specifically, the San Jose metro area is the top EV hotspot which is not surprising given its status as a forward-thinking center of Silicon Valley. In fact, according to the Alternative Fuel Data Center data provided by the US Department of Energy, San Jose logs the third-highest number of EVs in the nation (approximately 74,000 electric cars), as well as the third-largest number of EV charging stations (approximately 1,550).
Likewise, San Francisco – also known for its tech vibe and green initiatives – comes in second on the list of friendliest metro areas for electric vehicles in 2021. The Bay Area boasts about 122,400 EVs and the Clean Cars for All program, which, along with state and federal initiatives, promotes electric car usage — therefore making it easier for the San Francisco Bay Area to adopt and sustain the EV trend.
Further North, Seattle takes the third spot when it comes to adoption of the EV trend, with an infrastructure that provides fast public charging stations across the city’s entire service area. The chargers use City Light’s clean electricity and in 2020, Seattle was reported to be the city with the second-highest percentage of electric vehicles.
How the U.S. Compares to the Rest of the World: Still Much Ground to Cover
The interest in a greener future is certainly high across the nation: 1.8 million electric vehicles were registered in the U.S. in 2020. More recently, the Biden administration announced a target that, by 2030, half of all vehicles sold in the U.S. should be battery electric, full-cell electric or plug-in hybrid. Although that plan may seem quite ambitious, countries like Norway and Iceland are proof that this goal is, in fact, achievable: In 2020, nearly three-quarters of the vehicles sold in Norway, as well as more than half of those sold in Iceland, were electric. Furthermore, in August of this year, Fortune reported that the number of electric cars sold to date in Europe was almost double that of the United States – 3.2 million of the total 10.2 million sold worldwide. Yet, even more impressive was the number of electric vehicles sold to date in China, where the market is far larger – 4.5 million.
So, What is Stopping the U.S. from Leading the Global EV Race?
It’s no secret that, compared to regular cars, the increased price of electric cars makes it hard for the general middle-class public to invest in them, despite the fact that studies have shown that driving an electric vehicle is more cost-effective in the long run and, in some cases, state and local incentives can help cushion the price. Even so, a hefty initial investment is still necessary – and that’s turning out to be a roadblock for a large number of drivers.
The infrastructure is another issue in many metros across the U.S. and globally. The roll-out of a strong public charging grid still has a long way to go before it can provide simple and full autonomy to the drivers of electric cars and encourage mass adoption.
However, measures are being taken in the matter of EV implementation and it is likely that we will go through significant changes in the next decade, accelerating towards a more sustainable approach to driving.