There has been an electric vehicle revolution happening over the past decade, whether we realize it or not. Many of the benefits associated with this monumental shift in transportation are happening too. EVs are cheaper to power and operate, they are better for the environment and their driving performance is surprisingly adept. With all the benefits though, there are still EV adoption barriers that have slowed new car buyers from making the switch.
Many of these EV adoption barriers are lifestyle related, and many will be thrust into the past in the very near future. Still, electric vehicles are not a solution for everyone just yet. As technology advances and more awareness of EV’s associated benefits to both people and the planet grows, electric vehicles will command a majority of the new vehicle market share. Until then, there are still some EV adoption barriers that will need to be considered before everyone is ready to jump on board.
EV Adoption Barriers
When it comes to issues with electric cars, adoption of this new technology is the most prevalent. Most adoption barriers are personal. Whether it is a fear of an EV’s limited range, access to charging stations or the upfront sticker cost, most people will cite a personal reason against adoption that stands above the rest. In order to put these reasons into perspective, it is helpful to know more about how those barriers to EV adoption play out in the real world and what is being done to blunt their impact.
One of the most common EV adoption barriers people talk about is the limited range of a charged vehicle. At the time of this publication, electric vehicles averaged a little under a 300 mile range on a full charge. That may sound reasonable for an internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle that can be refilled with gas in less than ten minutes but may sound less enticing when a full charge can take 20 minutes to an hour or more, depending on the speed of the charger.
If you live in an area that experiences extreme temperatures, this is another consideration when calculating the range you need. Extreme temperatures, both high and low, can negatively impact a fully charged battery’s expected range. If you plan on making long trips in the dead of a cold winter or the heat of the dog days of summer, you can expect to plan for around a 20% reduction in range. This fact is certainly something to consider.
Fortunately, according to the Department of Energy, 75% of vehicle trips come in under 10 miles and 95% come in under 30 miles. These stats make a 300 mile range more than sufficient for most drivers. Add in the fact that most EV owners plug their vehicles into home chargers overnight, and a somewhat limited range gets less scary knowing you can start each day with a full battery. If you charge overnight, you are actually less likely to need to refuel an EV during any given day than you are with an ICE vehicle.
Another barrier related to range is the current charging infrastructure in the US. While there is a gas station in every town and on every freeway off ramp, EV charging stations are fewer and farther between. Long trips through unfamiliar territory can exacerbate the fears of running out of a charge. This is one of those EV adoption barriers that is difficult for people to overcome. Luckily, help is on the way.
The federal government has granted states tens of millions of dollars per state to improve their charging infrastructure. This money is going toward more charging stations in the places we need them most, including densely populated areas and major thoroughfares. That means we will soon be able to begin our journeys with a full charge, and have no problem finding charging stations along the way.
Advancements in chargers are also contributing to positive change on this front. The new class of high speed chargers can fill a battery to 80% in as little as 20 minutes. That gives you time to hit the restroom, grab a few snacks and continue on your journey with minimal interruption.
Many people see electric vehicles as tiny shuttles that are perfect for navigating congested cities, but little else. It is one of the original electric vehicle challenges that had people questioning the technology. The first wave of EVs was largely made up of these very small models, but the new batch includes everything from compact cars to full size trucks. And, surprisingly enough, they perform very well.
The new wave of electric vehicles features incredibly responsive acceleration and steering. Their electric motors and low centers of gravity make this possible. They are also incredibly efficient at braking, due to something called regenerative braking. When the driver lets up on the gas, power is shifted back into the battery and the car slows before the brakes are even applied. This leads to a longer life and better performance out of your brake pads and rotors.
EV Availability and Waiting Lists
Electric vehicles are still relatively new to the market, and there are relatively few models available when compared to ICE vehicles. Manufacturers are ramping up EV production and the supply is growing, but if you are looking to purchase an EV in the near future, you will have limited options available. This combination of a limited supply and a healthy demand translates into lengthy waiting lists for many EV models on the market.
Once you find a model you like, you will have to prepare yourself for the high probability that you will be added to one of these waiting lists. On average, you can expect a 4-6 week wait time for many models, and even longer if the model you choose is in high demand. Such significant wait times may not work for you if you need a new vehicle urgently. The wait has become significantly shorter over the past couple of years, so this issue may largely resolve itself by the end of the decade.
Among EV adoption barriers, price is often seen as an incredibly high one. Inflation has many people strapped for expendable cash, making every dollar count. As of July 2023, the average price of a new EV was $53,469, according to Kelly Blue Book. That price tag is almost $14,000 higher than the average among all passenger vehicles. This can be a tough pill to swallow for consumers on a tight budget. Fortunately, there is relief for this barrier as well.
As production ramps up to meet the increasing demand, prices should fall. This will put EVs within reach of a much greater number of people. It is also becoming increasingly possible to find decent deals on the used market. You can even find some government incentives that will help you make the switch.
Limited Awareness of Government Incentives
If you are ready to purchase an electric vehicle but are concerned with the price, state and federal incentives can help bring the cost down. The Internal Revenue Service currently offers point of sale rebates of up to $7,500 for qualified new EV purchases, and many states will add a couple thousand dollars worth of tax credits on top of that. Each entity offers incentives for used vehicles too, but at lower dollar amounts. Keep in mind, however, that many tax rebates and incentives are limited to EVs with a base price of $55,000 or less, meaning not all EV purchases will qualify.
Unfortunately, awareness of these incentives is not as widespread as it should be, and this is not the kind of thing covered in most classrooms. This is the reason price is one of the most often cited EV adoption barriers. Supplemental education and government-sponsored outreach will go a long way. The more we spread awareness of available discounts and tax incentives, the more we will view electric vehicles as something within our reach rather than a luxury.
With any new technology, a fear of the unknown creeps into the buying equation. None more so than the safety of that new technology. While electric car batteries are safer than internal combustion engines on the whole, there are some best practices that will ensure your new vehicle is as safe as possible.
The safety concern that people cite most has to do with the batteries. They are incredibly powerful and capable of producing a lot of heat, which can lead to potential fires if not properly charged and maintained. However, they are incredibly safe when maintained properly. This includes following recommended charging practices and proper maintenance of the battery and cooling system. If you understand the technology, this is one of the electric car adoption problems that can easily be crossed off the list.
In short, safety concerns as one of the EV adoption barriers comes largely down to education and awareness. The more you know about the proper way to charge and maintain your EV, the less likely you are to experience any kind of safety issues. You just need to follow best practices.
As always, being prepared to deal with any kind of emergency is always encouraged. Keep a fire extinguisher, emergency kit and anything else you might need in the vehicle to respond to any potential problems.
Acceptance and Education
Many people simply do not have the necessary information to make an informed decision on EVs. These vehicles are still relatively new to the market, and if you do not know anyone who already owns one, your experience with an EV is limited. Preparing yourself now with the information you need will make your next vehicle purchase much easier, and make these challenges with EV adoption less frightening. EVs are where the world is headed, so the sooner you know, the better.
The next generation of drivers will likely see far more electric vehicles on the road than ICE vehicles. Starting their knowledge journey early on will help them adapt to the technology and adopt products that are better for their futures. Some schools may cover the basics on EVs, but that is not currently the norm. Education outreach programs that teach students about this new technology and make them aware of the realities of EV’s can go a long way toward breaking down these adoption barriers and supporting the ecological, environmental and economic benefits of the clean energy transition.
Sponsoring a K-12 education outreach program in your community can be a great way to get young people on board with the energy transition early and inspire them to support EV adoption in their families. NTC offers a number of fun and informative programs to bridge the electrification and clean energy knowledge gap. The more young people know about current EV adoption barriers and why it is so important to solve and overcome them, the more likely they will be to embrace new technology and clean energy in the future.