EV adoption has the potential to reshape the transportation sector in the United States, drastically cutting carbon emissions and clearing the way for significant environmental benefits. For those who are already fans of EVs, we already know they are quick, fun, and desirable, and the fossil fuel-free part is like a cherry on the sundae. However, there are several hurdles that are preventing the widespread adoption of EVs. A recent report by AAA called out three main roadblocks to EV Shangrila: upfront cost, range anxiety, and lack of infrastructure.
The MSRP of an EV is a major concern for most consumers. According to a CarGurus survey, 67 percent of consumers cite purchase cost as their top concern about EVs. The average transaction price for an electric vehicle is $66,437, according to Kelley Blue Book — roughly $10,000 higher than the overall industry average of $56,329 which includes gas and EVs. In terms of pricing, a bare-bones EV is equivalent to an entry-level luxury car.
Many consumers still need to be convinced that EVs are a viable replacement for gas-engine vehicles due to concerns about battery capacity and range. The fear of running out of power without being able to make it to a charging station to recharge still makes car buyers skittery. Battery technology is changing and improving every day and as long as there are riches to be made in inventing the perfect electric storage format, this problem should solve itself.
Lack of Infrastructure
Charging station availability is also a major hurdle. As of today, the limited number of public chargers, especially in less populated areas, makes it more difficult for EV drivers to make certain trips. The decision of which stations to install requires balancing the cost of installation with the needs and convenience of drivers.
To be fair the vast majority of people stay close to home 95% of the time, so home charging is pretty good across the country, if you live in a single-family home, not so good for apartment dwellers. Regardless, public charging stations need to achieve parity with gas stations, and that will take some time, maybe decades.
Tax credits and incentives can also help offset some of the upfront cost of purchasing an EV. With increasing ranges and lower relative costs, today’s EVs are no longer just niche vehicles. There are now models in nearly every vehicle class, from compact hatchbacks to full-size pickup trucks.
In addition to these obstacles, there are other challenges needed for electric vehicles to become commonplace. These include consumer education and awareness, as well as addressing concerns about the environmental impact of battery production and disposal.
Education is crucial in order for more people to understand the benefits of electric vehicles and make informed decisions about purchasing one. Many people are still unaware of the significant cost savings that can be achieved over the lifetime of an electric vehicle due to lower fuel and maintenance costs.
Addressing concerns about the environmental impact of battery production and disposal is critical. While electric vehicles produce significantly fewer emissions than gas-powered cars over their lifetime, there are still concerns about the environmental impact of producing and disposing of batteries. Continued investment in research and development can help address these concerns and make electric vehicles more environmentally friendly.
Having said all that, when will EV adoption reach critical mass? According to Bloomberg New Energy, it expects sales of passenger EVs to overtake conventional internal combustion-based vehicles by 2038 (with global EV sales topping 50 million a year as compared to conventional vehicle sales of 47 million by then). This prediction is based on current trends and advancements in technology, infrastructure, and government policies.
There are several factors that could affect these predictions:
Advancements In Technology
Improvements in battery technology, charging infrastructure, and vehicle design could make EVs more attractive to consumers and accelerate their adoption.
Government incentives, regulations, and infrastructure investments could play a major role in encouraging the adoption of EVs. We are already seeing heavy subsidies from the Biden Administration and this probably won’t be the last.
Consumer preferences and behavior could also affect the adoption of EVs. Continued factors such as range anxiety, upfront cost, and lack of awareness about the benefits of EVs could slow down their adoption.
Economic conditions such as changes in oil prices, availability of financing options, and overall economic growth could also affect the adoption of EVs.
EVs currently make up about 5 percent of the fleet in North America and California asked folks not to charge their cars at peak hours last summer. The grid will need billions of dollars to be upgraded to meet demand. How fast this is implemented is critical.
Parity is the Key Word
When EVs reach parity with every aspect of ICE-powered cars, we’ll hit the tipping point. Your new EV has to cost no more than an equivalent gas-powered car. Recharging an EV should take five minutes at widely available charging stations coast to coast. Heavy trucks will be able to pull a full load up the Siskyous in 100-degree heat with no degradation in performance and that includes passenger trucks as well.
So while EVs are here to stay and will dominate in the future, we still have some kinks to iron out. For most folks who drive around town the majority of the time and can charge at home, the revolution is already here.