Electric Cars and Free Parking: Does it Exist – And If So, Where?

If you have an electric car or are looking at getting one, you’ve probably been wondering about electric cars and free parking—does it exist? Electric cars are great—they save the planet, they save us money, and they provide some extra benefits.

Many electric car owners have been able to benefit from free parking; so yes, this is an incentive that exists in most parts of the world. While the global transportation system is becoming increasingly electrified, we can probably expect even more free parking and related incentives in the future, too.

This article will take a look at some current trends that show that we’re heading towards a future with more electric cars on the roads. We’ll also look at what some countries and cities are doing to provide electric car owners with free parking.

We’ll also let you know where you should look for free parking in your area.

Electrification of our Roads

The global transportation system is becoming increasingly electrified. No longer just accessible or desirable for niche buyers, electric cars are becoming more affordable and former concerns about their batteries and their ranges are increasingly being solved.

More and more governments are utilizing electric cars to meet their climate goals. And even in places like the United States, where federal government rollback has resulted in changing standards, individual cities and states are still pushing for more and more electric vehicles to be on the roads.

In just the European Union alone, the number of electric cars sold rose 67% between 2018 and 2019, and this is likely due to the many incentives that are a part of countries’ ambitious plans to reduce the emissions of their transportation sector.

Auto manufacturers are “going green” also. More than $200 billion has been invested in electric vehicle development and companies like Toyota and Volkswagen have plans to electrify their fleet and make electric cars a significant portion of their sales within the coming years.

What does this mean for you, an electric car owner? Well, most likely it means that free parking is either available in your city, state, or country—or will be soon.

Does Free Parking for Electric Cars Exist?

Many areas of the world have welcomed electric cars with open arms. Not only have federal and local governments provided incentives like tax rebates and express-lane use on the freeway, but many also offer free parking for their EV driving residents.

Free parking has been one of the most popular incentives offered by cities and federal governments. In many cases, offering this has translated into more electric vehicle purchases. Free parking varies around the world, but in many places, it includes city parking meters and even some metropolitan parking garages. 

Europe

In Europe, there are currently more than 185,000 public charge points and with the number of electric cars expected to reach at least 33 million within the next decade, infrastructure needs are already being considered. Many times, considerations for charging also means considerations for parking.

Many European countries provide a variety of incentives for electric car owners. These include subsidies and other benefits—and in many cases also include free parking.

Countries like Norway and Germany provide free parking to EV owners in some cities. France, Italy, Spain and Sweden are other countries where free parking is offered in some municipalities. Free parking for electric vehicles in the UK has been popular—so popular drivers are using short-term charging stations for long-term parking.

United States

In the United States, local governments are aware that incentives in the form of parking benefits and reduced registration fees are needed to encourage EV use and ownership. As such, free parking is also a feature in many cities and states. In fact, two states offer free parking everywhere for EV owners. In Nevada and Hawaii, these free parking incentives save drivers an average of $1,000 to $600 a year.

In cities around the US free EV parking is a feature, as many cities aim to meet carbon emissions goals by encouraging a shift to electric cars. Many US workplaces also offer free parking, and sometimes free charging. This encourages more employees to make the switch to electric.

With the growth in the electric transportation sector continuing to rise, many residential areas have also begun to incorporate free charging and free parking for their EV-owning residents. A lot of new buildings in cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles are designed with designated parking areas for EVs—some equipped with charging stations.

Canada

Canada is a country that has yet to really focus on providing incentives for electric car drivers. Unlike some European countries, the federal government hasn’t offered much in the way of tax incentives and other perks. Some provinces do provide some free parking options for EVs though, and they’re pretty exclusive. In Quebec, if an internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle is found parked in a designated EV spot, they could be fined $125.

Free parking and charging can be found in some of Canada’s larger cities. Drivers might need to get a permit before accessing no-charge street parking, though.

Australia

The Australian government also hasn’t incentivized electric car ownership like some other countries around the world have. However, this isn’t to say that local and state governments have completely ignored the needs of electric car owners. In some states, charging hubs will provide electric vehicle drivers with limited free parking.

However, free parking isn’t as attractive a benefit for Australian drivers. When surveyed, only 12% of potential buyers reported that parking privileges would incentivize them to buy an EV. This is compared to the 67% and 68% who would prefer subsidies for home charging and public charging infrastructure, respectively.

Where Can I Park?

Around the world, there are various places electric car owners may be able to access free parking. Some city street parking is free for EV owners, although they may need to access a special permit first. Other places like libraries and recreation centres generally provide free parking (and charging) for electric car owners. Many workplaces offer parking discounts or free parking for their EV driving employees, and sometimes they even provide free charging, too.

Retail outlets are another place where electric car owners may be able to access free parking and charging. Many hospitals also offer designated parking spaces for electric cars, and sometimes will provide free charging as well.

While less common, some cafes and restaurants have designated free parking spots for electric cars, as do some lodging facilities like resorts and hotels.

Parking Etiquette

We’d also like to remind you that you should consider parking and charging etiquette as an EV owner. You don’t want to be like those petrol-fuelled ICEholes, do you?

If you “park” your Tesla in a charging spot and decide to leave it there all day, you’re discouraging the growth of electric cars. Sometimes, free parking spots are separate from charging spots—so remember the distinction.

Electric car “squatters” have become a common issue in some cities, which gives the wrong impression about electric car owners.

So, be aware of any time limits and don’t charge at a public station if you don’t need to. Charge to charge or park to park—don’t do both.

Go to Free Parking

Around the world, there are many incentives being offered to electric car owners and drivers. One of our favourite perks? Free parking. We’re happy to report that indeed free parking for electric cars does exist, and depending on where you are in the world, you’ll most likely be able to find it at recreational facilities, libraries, hospitals, and retail outlets.

If you don’t have access to free parking now, keep your fingers crossed. With a global shift towards more and more cars that are powered by electricity, we’re sure to see even more incentives in the future.