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What Makes a City Perfect for Electric Vehicles?

Electric Vehicles (EVs) are not just the cars of the future, but the present. Governments across the globe have recognized the need to electrify our transport systems in order to hit the Paris Agreement targets, and the speed of EV adoptions brings us hope. Within a mere decade, the number of EVs on our roads have soared from 17,000 to 7.2 million, with at least 9 countries having more than 100,000 EVs.

So the question arises: why have some countries been more successful at mainstreaming EVs than others? The EV market is unpredictable and constantly changing; it’s not just about the socio-economic status. It turns out that the places that address consumer challenges often reap the most success; here is our breakdown on the biggest consumer considerations with accompanying case studies from countries/cities world.

1. Cost Incentives

You might have heard that an EV usually costs much more upfront than a traditional petrol car, but it is a lesser known fact that EVs have much lower maintenance costs - read more about the cost comparisons in our other article here. Nevertheless, the hesitation and stigma associated with investing in a long-term, everyday-use, “futuristic” product is very understandable. This is why it is important for governments to provide strong financial incentives for more people to consider hopping on the ‘green volks-wagen’.

Oslo, Norway, is one of the best examples, with the government providing generous purchase subsidies, tax exemptions, free ferry rides and municipal parking. These amazing policies explain Oslo having the highest number of pure electric vehicles in the world, with more than 1 in 5 new vehicles being EVs today.

2. Charging infrastructures

Another big consumer concern surrounding EVs is the availability and speed of charging points available. Charging times vary greatly - from 25 hours right down to 20 minutes for a decent EV charge - all depending on the level of charger… While you can usually find subsidies for installing home charging stations in most pro-EV cities, a strong charging infrastructure is also crucial for getting around reliably. The current tradeoff for cheaper charging costs is longer charging speeds, and vehicle owners today are demanding more fast-charging stations to fit a busy lifestyle.

San Jose, California comes up top in charging infrastructure, with about 1,000 charging stations, 71 of which are fast charge points and 1,400 of which are workplace charge points for employees.

3. Consumer purchasing power

Of course, we cannot ignore the fact that EVs can be considered a luxury purchase, with the average price of a small EV being 1.5 times more expensive than a small fuel-powered car….). Switzerland, with the 9th highest GDP per capita in the world and 36% of its citizens voting “yes” to a green economy, has a steadily increasing organic demand for EVs, with plug-in EV sales rising by 40% this year alone, even though governmental incentives are less abundant.

In contrast, though Chile is the cheapest place to drive an EV ($0.27/mile) and there are extensive governmental incentives, the upfront cost might just be too high, with a BMW i3 costing about $60,000 in a country where the average monthly wage is about $410.

Chile is not the only country in such a situation, so how do such countries play their part in greening transportation? The answer is simple: walk, cycle, bus or train! At the end of the day, EVs are still vehicles which cause many other forms of environmental degradation, so the most universal green mode of transport is to avoid private transport altogether.

4. Carbon Savings

Did you know that the carbon savings of owning an EV varies from place to place? (This is because the electricity to power EVs can come from a variety of sources - from coal powered plants to wind farms). For example, an EV in Australia would release 0.9 CO2/kwh, while that in the UK would only release about 0.28 CO2/kwh - that’s 3 times as much! See where your country/city ranks in this amazing visual summary done up by our resident climate scientist, Jake (if you’re reading this on the app, head over to Instagram to check-out the image).

Nevertheless, rest assured the climate footprint of owning an EV as compared to a petroleum car is still much lower anywhere in the world; it’s just a matter of how much. Click here for a great summary video.

Taking off from here...

How does your country/city fare in addressing each of these concerns? Which of the above would be your biggest concern when considering purchasing an EV? Let us know at or via our Instagram at @thecaptureapp. If you have more questions about EVs, we recommend this resource.

The Capture app allows you to calculate your monthly CO2 allowance, based on recommendations from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, then balance emissions at the end of each month through verified nature-based offsets. Simply search 'carbon footprint and CO2 tracker' to find us in your app store.


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