Environment

Electric Vehicles: What Is Really Stopping Them from Becoming Mainstream?

There is no doubt that electric vehicles are the future, as the way we get around and produce electricity is transitioning away from fossil fuels, and towards cleaner and greener alternatives. The entire transport sector accounts for 21% of total CO2 emissions and road travel alone accounts for 15% of total CO2 emissions so getting electric vehicles onto the roads is definitely a priority in tackling the climate crisis. However, they’re not perfect, and they are faced with obstacles that are stopping them from becoming mainstream.

Choice of Electric Vehicles

Because electric vehicles are fairly new, in the grand scheme of things, companies don’t yet offer an electric range anywhere near as big as their gas range and not everybody wants the same type of vehicle. Some people want fast vehicles, others need big ones for their kids, and of course for the moment there are still no pickup trucks although many are in the works (like the famous Tesla Cybertruck). So until we have an electric vehicle for every type of driver out there, they simply can’t be mainstream because people will always be drawn to the gas car that fits all their needs.

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Cost

As usual, it always comes down to the money. Although the cost per mile may be reduced thanks to the price of electricity being lower than that of gas, for electric vehicles to be adopted by the masses, the initial price will need to be reduced. The cheapest electric cars come in at around $30 000 and higher-end models can climb well into the $100 000, whereas the initial price of gas cars can be much cheaper. Once again, as electric vehicles become more and more popular, we will start to see much more competitive prices, furthermore, many countries will offer rebates and incentives to encourage you to buy them.

Misconceptions about Electric Vehicles

Another obstacle that electric vehicles will have to overcome are their misconceptions! Indeed a lot of information that is exaggerated or even fake is spread about electric vehicles. This leads to unnecessary concerns for potential buyers.

Range

Range is often a concern to potential electric vehicle buyers, because gas vehicles are commonly believed to be far superior in this domain which is actually no longer the case. The average gas-powered car can reach up to 482 km (300 miles) on a full tank, whilst most electric models have a range of 200-490 km (124-304 miles) on a single charge so it’s now very easy to find an EV with a range that fits your needs. Tesla has even managed to breach 500 miles of range, with the new Model S Plaid+ boasting an incredible 520+ miles on a single charge. In addition, with battery technology constantly being improved upon, those numbers can only get better!

Charging Infrastructure

Electric vehicle being charged.
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If you do end up in a situation where you’re on a long trip and need to recharge your vehicle, you will of course need to find a charging station. Although changing infrastructure is constantly growing, once again people are concerned that they’ll have difficulty finding a station, whether it be a Tesla Supercharger, or any other charging network. The truth is that most people only really drive 40-90 km a day, meaning you can just recharge your vehicle at home. Furthermore, maps now clearly show EV charging stations and will help you plan out when and where to stop.

Charging Speed

Charging speed is also a source of worry to people considering electric vehicles as it is often exaggerated. Depending on the charging network, the charging speed will be very different. For example, a 22kW station can charge cars in about 5h, whereas a 150kW station (like a Tesla Supercharger) can charge cars in under an hour. Furthermore, Elon Musk tweeted on December 21st that the Supercharger network will be available to other car manufacturers in reply to a tweet from MKBHD:

On top of that, companies are constantly working on making charging faster and more efficient, Tesla even announced plans for a new Megacharger network in 2017, that could provide the Semi Trucks (that they announced the same day) with 400 miles (645km) of range in 30 minutes!

Of course, you’re very rarely going to charge your vehicle to 100%, in normal circumstances you will top up every now and then, or spread out charging on a long journey to comply with bathroom breaks. Moreover, electric vehicles have the benefit of being charged at home overnight, meaning you’ll rarely even need to top up when doing short distances.

Overloading the Grid

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Finally, there are rumours that, with all these new electric vehicles needing charging at once, the electrical grid would overload. This is, however, untrue and exaggerated as electric vehicles will indeed not have a big enough impact to overload the grid. In fact, the adoption of electric vehicles may even help the grid with the introduction of Bidirectional charging (or “Two-way” Charging). This would allow for electric car batteries to provide electricity to the grid via a DC to AC converter system usually embedded in the EV charger. Vehicle to grid (V2G) can be used to help balance and settle local, regional or national energy needs via smart charging. It allows EVs to charge during off-peak hours and give back to the grid during peak hours when there is extra energy demand. With careful planning and the right infrastructure, parked and plugged-in EVs could become mass power banks, stabilizing the electric grids of the future

Bottom Line

The bottom line is, electric vehicles still have a few obstacles to overcome if they’re to become mainstream, but at the rate that technology is improving and with the amount of money being invested into electric vehicles increasing, it shouldn’t be too long before we start to see a considerable shift away from gas and towards electric.


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Scott Hickman

Founder of The Detechtor and host of The Detechtor Podcast | Techy | Politics enthusiast | Musician | Loves coffee ☕️

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