Cars top electric car cities

Published on November 11th, 2012 | by Guest Contributor


The Most Successful Electric Car Cities (+ Infographic)

November 11th, 2012 by  

top electric car cities

Electric vehicles (EVs) are becoming increasingly popular, as people and cities all over the world have started recognizing their advantages and introducing initiatives to promote the use of the plug-in transport option. Although EVs are still largely considered to be somewhat “cars of the future,” there’s a rising global movement committed to making existing electric cars a reality of today. In a major recent study, the International Energy Agency (IEA) analyzed this trend and found that only 16 cities and regions in the world account for a staggering one-third of all the EVs in use today.

The most successful EV region is the Kanagawa Prefecture in Japan. Of all registered cars in the area, 2,183 are electric. The local authorities aim to have 3,000 EVs on the road by the end of 2013, which is a modest objective considering that more than 3,000 hybrids were sold within the first five years of their introduction to the market.

The second most successful EV city is Los Angeles. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa wants to turn the “car capital of the world” into the “electric car capital of the world.” The ambitious goal of 80,000 EVs by 2015 may be a surprise for those who are familiar with the history of plug-in vehicles in that region. In the 1990s, car manufacturers in California produced nearly 5,000 electric cars. A few years later, they were all destroyed or donated to museums as the local government “grew doubtful of consumers’ willingness to accept the cars.” The u-turn in LA’s policy has resulted in more than 2,000 registered electric cars.

Rotterdam is the most successful electric car city in Europe, with 1,100 EVs on the road. When considering the ratio of electric cars to petrol-fueled vehicles, the Dutch city is even the most successful electric car hub in the world with 532 EVs per every 100,000 registered vehicles. These statistics might be a thorn in the side of Mayor of London Boris Johnson, who aims to turn Britain’s capital into the “EV capital of Europe.” London did not make it into the top 16 electric car cities in the world, unfortunately.

The IEA study took an in-depth look at the energy infrastructure, travel patterns, and initiatives of 16 cities and regions all over the world. It found that all of these areas are actively pursuing development goals through different innovative policies and programmes. While some of the approaches are tailored to each city, many of the strategies are common. For example, drivers of electric cars are offered a mix of financial and non-financial consumer incentives, such as tax credits, purchase subsidies, discounted tolls, free parking, and access to restricted highway lanes. The strategies also include specific projects such as sightseeing EV taxi service in Hakone (a town in the Kanagawa Prefecture). Other cities ahead of the game include Amsterdam, where the Car2Go that allows members of the public to pick up and drop off pay-as-you-go electric cars all over the city was introduced; and Barcelona, where owners of electric motorbikes can charge their vehicle for free at hotels and university campuses.

Some of the projects also have an international focus. Shanghai is leading the Electric Vehicle Initiative (EVI) that plans to build a demonstration base for exploring sustainable development of urban transportation, organize automotive enterprise clubs, and set up international communication platforms. Part of that initiative is the Test Drive/Ride Centre of China, set up to educate the public about EV development, history, and future trends as well as to promote the environmental benefits of electric cars. This initiative was presented in the United States at the Clean Energy Ministerial and received positive response from France, Germany, Japan, Sweden, Spain, Denmark, South Africa, and Portugal.

All of the top electric car cities and regions participating in the study have big plans for the future and aim to introduce even more EVs. That goal is supported by their national governments. By 2020, China and the United States jointly forecast sales of 2.5 million electric cars. The European Union has more optimistic numbers and predicts 20 million electric vehicles on the roads by 2020.

Whether this ambitious goal can be achieved within the next eight years is not sure yet, but the International Energy Agency study on the top EV cities and their initiatives indicates that we are definitely on the right track.

Check out our new 93-page EV report, based on over 2,000 surveys collected from EV drivers in 49 of 50 US states, 26 European countries, and 9 Canadian provinces.

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  • Frank Clark

    This data must be hopelessly out of date, since there are over 400 Teslas in the Atlanta metro area alone, not to mention many more Nissan Leafs.

    • Mirandaliebe

      ofc, this data was in 2012. Dude do u have any idea of the passenger cars/EV stock in Rotterdam?

  • Messenger-x Trond Haraldstad

    The capital of Norway, Oslo, had about 325 000 registered cars in the end of 2012. And now there are over 3400 electric cars. That means, that there is a total of over 1000 electric cars for every 100 000 registered cars. And that beats the Rotterdam by almost 50 %.

  • CameronMarkham

    Great article and great website

  • Electric cars reduces the pollution and helps us to lead a healthy life.Charts

  • elbilist

    City of Asker in Norway has population of roughly 55 000. Number of registered EV’s was 985 in September.

    That is nearly 4 times more than Rotterdam.


  • The MOST electrified city has a half percent. This is not a “movement”, until it …moves.

    Seems to me that Hawaii and places like it should be full of electric cars.

  • Mercy Davison

    The Town of Normal in central Illinois has a population of approximately 53,000 and just under 50 EVs on the road. The Town has installed 47 publicly available charging stations throughout the community — 46 are Level 2, and one is a Level 3 “Quick Charge” station. Two more Level 2s are on the way. The success of EV adoption in Normal is attributable to the citizen-led “EVTown” initiative. More info is at

  • visualeyes

    YES! Check your data! A few years ago there were 0ver 2000 EVs in the San Francisco Bay area BEFORE readymades! I only know of one that got totaled & that by a marin county bus. Of course, many of these EV builders moved to the Pacific Northwest, but Santa Clara county is full of TeslaMotors vehicles. Even more would be on the road if owners could buy USA-built LiFePos batteries.

  • I congratulate the city of North East England on securing a spot in this insightful infographic. To think that North East England started out as a small farmers village! Now it has been given the status of city and featured in this infographic. I mean, that’s a pretty good achievement for the city of North East England!

  • BobFrench

    What about Paris and London ? Paris has more than 480 ev !!

  • Steve Schmidt

    Another place to check is the Chattanooga, Tennessee area. City population is 167,600 and is in Hamilton County with a population of 341,000 in 2010. I was the publicity chairman for our National Plug in Day on September 23. According is our research then, 37 Nissan LEAFS had been sold by two local dealers. Also there are about 60 public chargers available, at approximately 35 locations.

  • j-dawg

    M.I.A. Oslo

  • Wiley1

    There have been over 150 Th!nk, all electric vehicles delivered and in use in Oregon (mostly the Portland area). It’s what I consider the first really affordable and practical EV car on the market today. Built in Elkhart, IN., with 70% USA components, it is sold for $16,000 in Oregon. So, after the federal tax credit, it’s effective cost is $8500. It has a top speed of 70 mph, 100 miles on a charge, airbags, air conditioning, heater, and a roll cage design. My wife & I both have one and we are so please with it’s performance and the 2 cent a mile that it costs us to operate it. For a commuter car, it can’t be beat!

    • bluestems

      I’m interested in this, but according to the website, it’s not available for sale in Oregon and the msrp is $32,495. Do they have another model that you purchased?

  • your story does not add up. i find it hard to believe the Seattle Area is completely ignored in this study.

  • Birger

    Yes, in Oslo there is 4505 electric cars today. That is 4 times more than in Rotterdam. (Oslo and Rotterdam is about at the same size)

  • Hans

    Someone forgot Oslo, Norway

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