5 Major Obstacles for Electric Vehicles in America

A year is a long time in the world of electric vehicles. When we looked at the biggest problems facing EVs at the start of 2015, issues like image and cost still played a huge role in the slow adoption rate across America. The cars you wanted to be seen in you couldn’t afford, and the ones that were cheap were laughingstocks at the curb.

A year and a few months later, these concerns seem to come from a vault sealed for a decade. Thanks to Tesla (and the automakers trying to compete with it), few people consider plug-in cars “ugly and slow and boring like a golf cart,” which was the perception Elon Musk hoped to change about the segment when he founded his company.

Cost has come down considerably as well. For the segment of EVs ranging between 76 miles and 93 miles, many are available for $20,000 or less after incentives. (In some states, you can purchase a Nissan Leaf for $8,500.) Despite these seismic shifts, perceptions had not changed a great deal when the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) conducted a survey of the general car-buying public in 2015.

Charging infrastructure

Nissan Leaf charging on NYC's Lower East Side

Everyone knows where the local gas station is. Do you know where your nearest EV charging station is located? Not many people in the NREL study did. Just 18% said they knew of places to charge along routes they drove. When people talk about range anxiety, they usually mean charging anxiety. Without a means to fuel the car, an EV seems practically impossible. More public charging stations with proper signage can correct this problem.

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