Barriers to Electric Vehicle Adoption Part I

6 minute read

At a Glance

In this two-part insights series, Exro explores barriers to electric vehicle adoption as cited in poll responses by the Exro social media community. Part one evaluates four major EV adoption obstacles to understand why these barriers exist and how they may or may not be alleviated in the near future.

Table of Contents

There’s no doubt about it: electric vehicle adoption is on the rise. In a year where most industries and sectors took hits and shares in the S&P 500 dropped 31% in March 2020, the EV market on the other hand saw growth and traction. According to data from S&P Global, total electric vehicles sales rose 43% to over 3 million vehicles, resulting in 4.2% market share in 2020.

This trend doesn’t appear to be losing any momentum in 2021. In the first quarter of the year, global EV sales rose 140% over the same period in 2020, driven by nearly one million sales between Europe and China and EV traction beginning to pick up in the United States.

Many factors are fueling EV adoption including incentivization; global governments are leveraging economic incentives to entice the switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy in order to meet emissions targets. Research shows that over 20 countries have introduced electrification targets or ICE bans, and net-zero pledges have been taken by several countries in the EU.

The stars are aligning for an all-electric future — but should adoption be happening at an even more rapid pace? Why aren’t all consumers turning to electric cars?

An EV charger plugged into a blue electric car, charging the vehicle's battery.

The 4 barriers to electric vehicle adoption

Arguably, if electric vehicles today were a silver bullet solution, everyone would own them. But many challenges plague drivers, whether it’s overcoming the learning curve about reasons to embrace EVs, changing habits, understanding how the machine differs from ICE vehicles, or range anxiety.

At Exro, we categorized obstacles to EV adoption into four groups:

  • Charging infrastructure Has the consumer’s location embraced a charging infrastructure that can support day-to-day emobility?
  • EV performance Do EVs on the market have the range, acceleration, torque, handling and towing capabilities consumers require?
  • EV availability /affordability Are EVs available to all consumers (location, seating, interior volume, etc.)and at a price point that consumers can afford?
  • Other Other less common barriers to EV adoption.

To better understand the impact of these challenges, we reached out to our social media community on LinkedIn and Twitter with a poll. Over 150 responses poured in.

What is the biggest challenge for emobility adoption right now?

Charging infrastructure at 47.7% and EV availability/affordability at 34.2% were largely cited as the two biggest barriers to EV adoption.

Graph shows charging infrastructure and EV availability as highest barriers towards EV adoption.
Aggregated LinkedIn + Twitter poll responses; 176 total respondents.

When most people think of electric vehicles, small and compact cars come to mind. These types of vehicles are not conducive for consumers with families, disabilities, or jobs that require hauling equipment. For others, the type of EV they’d prefer can’t be purchased in their town, state/province, or country.

Luckily, OEMs are focused on widening the availability of EVs. Over the next five years, many automakers plan to release 200 new electric car models. The IEA summarized 2021 OEM announcements as: Volvo will only sell electric cars from 2030; Ford will only electric car sales in Europe from 2030; General Motors plans to offer only electric LDVs by 2035; Volkswagen aims for 70% electric car sales in Europe, and 50% in China and the United States by 2030; and Stellantis aims for 70%electric cars sales in Europe and 35% in the United States.

From an affordability perspective, when the 21st century EVs initially came to market, the price points were high. One of the first plug-in hybrids was the Chevy Volt priced at $40,000 and of course Tesla’s infamous Roadster was priced at over $100,000. Even with economic incentives, the cost of EVs have been a deterrent for consumers.

Already though, we’re seeing prices fall. As innovation continues to expand, products like the Coil Driver™ are improving EVs’ system design, component costs, and the size and weight of equipment .

This combined with falling battery prices means that EVs are well on their way of becoming more affordable for consumers. New research even suggests that by 2025, EVs will be less expensive than gasoline vehicles.

Then there is the number one challenge to EV adoption cited by the Exro community. Charging infrastructure is expanding, but is it doing so at the rate required to meet consumer needs?

In part two of this insights series, we explore the results of our secondary poll with over 100 respondents. Here, we’ll dive deeper into this barrier to understand specific challenges relating to charging infrastructure. Stay tuned!

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