By Veronica Carter
Gas prices are pretty low right now, so there's hasn't been a big uptick in interest in electric vehicles, but economists think that will change once prices start to climb again.
has studied whether the nation's largest cities are ready for an increase in electric vehicles on the road if they have enough charging stations available.
Study author Kyle Clark-Sutton says some cities are doing better than others by installing charging facilities and offering incentives to drivers.
"The largest cities in America have very dense urban centers that don't have a whole lot of private garage parking," says Sutton. "And a lot of people just don't have their own home garages that they can have control over and can install a charging station there."
Portland, Oregon, tops the list of of major U.S. cities that are the most ready to accommodate plug-in electric vehicles. Indianapolis came in at No. 13.
Sutton says vehicle technology in general is progressing quickly. He thinks the "next big thing" will be self-driving cars, which he says will pair nicely with electric vehicles.
"If you order a car to come pick you up to go to work, for example, once it drops you off, there may be a charging area for that vehicle company nearby," says Sutton. "And it may go and park itself and charge, while it's waiting to be called by the next customer."
Sutton says some cities have installed free charging stations; some have a monthly cost; and still other cities offer special parking privileges for PEV drivers.
Sutton says having to think about accessibility to charging stations is a hassle, but on the positive side, PEV owners can save a lot of money.
"You never have to pull into a gas station again, particularly if you have a place to charge your vehicle at or near your place of work, or near your home," he says. "And electric vehicles have much fewer moving parts."
Nine states have adopted California's stricter emissions laws and require manufacturers and dealers to sell a certain number of electric vehicles every year.
Indiana isn't one of them, but Sutton hopes it will be soon.