Electric vehicle (EV) adoption has made significant strides in recent years. In 2022, global EV sales surpassed 10 million for the first time ever, increasing by 60% over 2021 levels. In total, one in seven vehicle purchases around the world was electric, compared to one in 70 in 2017.
Yet, despite these gains, many U.S. drivers are still quite reluctant to get on board. According to a February 2023 survey by ValuePenguin, nearly 80% of Americans still drive gas cars, and many are still waiting for the industry to overcome some key roadblocks before they will seriously consider switching.
The cost of EVs has always been one of the highest hurdles to adoption, along with worries over finding places to charge. In recent months, some key safety concerns around EV batteries and charging stations have also come to the forefront.
Many drivers are on the cusp of going electric, but some of these big barriers are holding them back. The question is, are these hurdles as high as they seem? Are electric vehicles safe? Is charging reliable? And is there still a significant cost gap between EVs and their gas-fueled counterparts? We’ll tackle these and more questions in this post.
Real barriers remain
ValuePenguin’s survey, like many before it, reiterated the same top concerns that drivers have when considering the prospect of switching to an EV. Many consumers aren’t ready to pay the perceived premium price for EVs, and they worry about ancillary costs like replacing batteries or getting expensive, specialized maintenance. On top of that, they’re anxious that their battery won’t last long enough to get them to their destination. And, when they do need to refuel, they’re concerned they won’t be able to find a place to do it.
These concerns are significant, and they’re still holding many would-be EV buyers back. And there’s no question that there’s more work to be done to address these issues. There is the question, however, of whether these concerns should still be as big as they are.
Are electric vehicles and EV chargers safe?
This worry may not be as prominent as the others, but it’s worth addressing first because it’s gotten a lot of attention recently. The aforementioned stories about charging issues are unnerving, and no driver wants to be left without a vehicle because of a station malfunction. Not only that, but consumers worry when they read about lithium-ion batteries catching fire.
Nonetheless, the data show that these electric vehicle safety concerns are largely overblown—particularly in comparison with gas-powered vehicles. As one study of data from the National Transportation Safety Board, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, and government recall figures shows, EV fires are far less common than ones involving gas-powered or hybrid vehicles.
In fact, it’s not even close. For every 100,000 gas-powered cars sold, there are 1,530 fires. That number jumps to 3,475 for every 100,000 hybrid cars sold. For EVs, it’s 25 per 100,000—that’s 61 times less frequent than with gas cars and 139 times less often than with hybrids.
Though rare, electric vehicle fires can be especially dangerous due to how difficult it is to cool down lithium-ion batteries. Nonetheless, perspective is critical, and the risks aren’t nearly as high as they’re often perceived to be — especially when compared to internal combustion engines. Plus, EV and charging technology is constantly improving, making these issues less likely with each passing year.
Is EV charging accessible and reliable?
Range anxiety runs neck and neck with electric vehicle pricing as the top two barriers to EV adoption. This breaks down to two primary worries: battery range and charging station availability.
There are two ways of looking at both concerns. On the one hand, perception simply hasn’t caught up with reality. The vast majority of today’s EVs can go 200 miles or more on a single charge—more than enough for the typical daily commute of most drivers. Likewise, there are already more than 130,000 public charge ports available, and this number is growing rapidly thanks to federal investment through the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Formula Program. That’s on top of the many private options available, not to mention the relative ease of installing home chargers, thanks to tax credits available through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
Still, there is a long way to go on both fronts to catch up with gas vehicles. And that brings us to the other way of looking at this. It’s about to get better—and quickly—for EVs on both fronts.
Some of the newest high-end EVs already have ranges of 400 miles or more, and this will soon trickle down to more accessible models. This exceeds the range of many gas-powered cars. In terms of charging station access, the U.S. government has already begun the process of working toward 500,000 public charging stations by 2030—a tenfold increase from today.
Of course, it’s important that these stations offer a consistent, reliable charging experience to all types of EV drivers. With 170,000 charge ports in North America and 500,000 worldwide, our JuicePump DC fast-charging stations offer some of the quickest, most reliable charging options available. Plus, our JuiceBox home chargers and commercial chargers are compatible with any EV, offering expanded charging options for EV drivers everywhere.
Addressing electric vehicle pricing concerns
As noted, electric vehicle pricing is the other chief concern holding back many drivers from converting to electric vehicles. And it’s an understandable concern, given the high price tag EVs have typically carried.
That price has been falling precipitously in recent years, however. Several manufacturers announced big price cuts in 2022, starting at around $3,000 on some Nissan, Hyundai and Tesla models and reaching as high as $6,000 on Chevy Bolts and $19,000 on certain high-end Teslas. These cuts bring EV model prices closer to their gas counterparts, though they’re still more expensive. While there’s no consensus over when EV prices will finally equalize with those of gas-powered cars, many industry experts think it will happen within the next five years.
However, those price differences evaporate today—and even turn in favor of EVs—when you factor in tax credits and long-term costs of ownership. Thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act, many models are again eligible for up to $7,500 in federal tax credits. Drivers may also be eligible for local tax credits or other incentives, depending on where they live. Together, these programs can bring down the upfront cost of purchasing an EV substantially.
Electric vehicles are also generally cheaper to maintain, and electricity is significantly less expensive than gas. Even when you consider that EVs tend to depreciate more rapidly than gas-powered cars, the net result is that the long-term cost of EVs is generally lower than their comparable gas models. One study by Car and Driver, for instance, compared Hyundai’s standard and electric Kona models, along with Ford’s standard and electric F-150s, and found that both electric versions won out with a lower three-year cost of ownership.
EV technology is rapidly improving
Electric vehicle safety and pricing concerns are real, and auto manufacturers and policymakers can’t ignore them if they hope to meet aggressive goals for the electric transition. However, many of these worries are overblown or outdated, failing to account for the rapid changes and technological advancements that have already occurred.
Today’s electric vehicles are priced lower than ever before, especially when you consider government subsidies, other incentives, and long-term costs of ownership. The nation’s charging network is growing rapidly and charging providers like Enel X Way are aggressively seeking to make it easy for anyone, anywhere to charge when they need to.