The demand for fuel-efficient and clean vehicles continues to gain momentum globally. With the many benefits of electric vehicles (EVs), including zero emissions and reduction in air pollution, why then aren’t EVs more prevalent on our roadways? We explore some reasons why the numbers of EVs on the road is only creeping up slowly.
While nearly all car companies are developing or already have products in the electric vehicle space, we need more variety in the number of vehicle models available. Currently, most electric cars are small, midsize, or compact, so consumers wanting pickup trucks or SUVs are mostly out of luck. But all that is starting to change. Various carmakers have announced plans to produce more models of electric and hybrid vehicles.
Early model EVs typically have a shorter driving range than equivalent gas-powered vehicles. Prospective buyers may fear that they will run out of charge and require vehicle assistance. This fear can be addressed by reframing the issue and via direct experience with EVs. By emphasising actual driving needs and that charging at home overnight is the simplest, cheapest and most convenient way to charge; we can present EVs as meeting most people’s daily requirements with simple charging habits.
New EVs are significantly more expensive than their equivalent gas-powered counterparts. However there are increasingly more options to choose from when selecting an EV vehicle and with rebates and lifetime cost of ownership factored in, there are actually a lot of reasons why overall costs—reduced maintenance, not having to buy gas ever—can make electric vehicles significantly cheaper over the lifetime of the vehicle.
Another hurdle to overcome when it comes to electric vehicle adoption is the infrastructure currently available. While people driving gas vehicles can go on long trips secure in the knowledge that they will be able to refuel quickly en route, for electric vehicles drivers, the same trip requires researching the location of charging stations along the way and setting aside time to charge up. To change this, infrastructure related to EVs needs to be up to speed. Charging stations need to be as accessible as gas stations, and the electricity grid needs to be able to support the additional demand.
Perhaps one of the biggest barriers to adoption is that most people just don’t think about electric vehicles when they are considering a new purchase. For 100 years we have driven cars the same way. Electric vehicles challenge our long-held norms and practices about how we use our vehicles. Additionally, most people have never ridden in an electric car, contributing to the fact that buying electric isn’t even on their radar. As EVs become more mainstream more people would consider them as an option when purchasing a new vehicle.
To get the true benefits of EVs, the electricity used for recharging should not rely on coal or natural gas, in the long run, electric vehicles need clean electricity in order to maximise their environmental benefits.