Overcoming Barriers to Driving Electric

Dory Larsen | February 8, 2018 | Clean Transportation, Electric Vehicles

In our Electrify the South monthly newsletters (sign up here if you haven’t already!) we often pose a survey question to learn more about the questions, thoughts or ideas our followers have about driving electric.  One of our recent questions was, “What is keeping you from purchasing an electric vehicle?” Here, we share the responses, address concerns and offer our thoughts and suggestions.

Expansion of charging infrastructure and signage is critical to EV adoption growth.

Lack of Awareness

One popular response to our survey was: “not informed enough yet.” This is a very common response. In fact, according to studies, consumer awareness is the top barrier to EV adoption. Fortunately, there are a number of great resources to help! One great way to learn more is by talking with current drivers.  There are a number of EV clubs and groups that are popping up throughout the Southeast and online to answer your questions. If you want to find an EV club in your area, let us know and we will help you find one.  One of the largest forums in our area is the EV Club of the South Facebook group. Check them out here. Also, we’ve been creating a more informative website, newsletter, and Facebook feed to keep our followers abreast of the latest cars and trends in electric transportation. Plug In America and Consumers Union are other great national resources.

Charging Infrastructure and Access

Another respondent to our survey cited lack of charging stations as their main concern. We recognize that there is not enough public charging to support the growing number of EVs on the road.  The solution will require a paradigm shift in how we view powering our cars.  First, the truth is we will not need a charging station on every corner like gas stations.  Instead, it will require a strategic action plan for fast charging along highway routes, additional Level 2 charging around town, and Level 1 charging at homes, workplaces and long-term parking areas, like airports. The beauty is that charging stations can be added to existing parking lots at workplaces and shopping plazas. It’s also important to know that over 50% of EV drivers charge exclusively at home.  Despite this fact, we know that charging station visibility is key to building consumer confidence and reducing ‘range anxiety.’ It is also critical that more municipalities and businesses adopt ‘EV ready’ policies to ensure charging is available at commercial properties and at multi-use dwellings and apartments so that electric driving is an option for those who do not own a home or have dedicated parking spaces.  SACE is addressing this with local cities and hope to continue to educate policy makers about the need for additional stations.  One success story is how the City of Atlanta’s leadership approved an EV Ready Ordinance that requires new residential and commercial construction to be ‘pre-wired’ for charging stations.

Additionally, one respondent cited that, as a renter, there is not access or a good location to add charging equipment. This does remain a challenge. This can be resolved by collaboration between property owners and EV drivers to get access to a designated line. Drive Electric Florida has developed a guide on how to overcome the barriers of living in an apartment or condo and driving an EV.  For many people who own their own home, you can choose to simply charge using a traditional outlet because powering overnight is sufficient to recharge from a typical day’s driving or, if quicker charging is necessary, can add a Level 2 charger. Charger and installation prices can vary, but many utilities are beginning to offer rebates to help drivers with the cost.

While there are many real concerns about range, many of these challenges can easily be overcome. A study conducted by MIT found that 87% of drivers could switch to an EV and have their daily travel needs met without adjusting their commute or driving times even if they cannot charge during the day. Try this calculator from UC Davis that allows you to input commute information and even gives you annual fuel cost comparisons.  You might be surprised at how far you go compared with you far you think you go.  However, if you are tearing up the road, it’s important to note that manufacturers are offering longer range vehicles with every model year.  The 2018 Nissan LEAF has a range of 150 miles and the Chevy Bolt has a 238 mile range.

Too expensive

Another concern expressed by survey respondents is cost –  electric cars are “too expensive.” While an EV compared to a similarly-sized gasoline or diesel vehicle is still a premium, costs are declining and incentive programs are available. Did you know that there are currently some six EVs that have an MSRP from $30-36,000?  With the $7,500 Federal tax credit the cost makes them very close to a comparable new gasoline or diesel vehicle. Plus, EVs have much lower fuel and maintenance costs. Buying a used EV is also a great option. You can find many newer-model previously leased EVs for much less than their original MSRP.  One reason is many early adopters turn over their EVs for newer models frequently. Before you buy a used EV, check out Plug In America’s “Used EV Buying Guide” which offers helpful information to help navigate the process.

Not in market for a new car

Lastly, another reason that survey respondents provided for not going electric is that they are not in the market for a new car and “waiting for (their) current ICE car to die”. Obviously, the decision to purchase a new vehicle is based on many parameters and one may be time. We recognize that cars are commonly the second largest expense that one has, so this investment cannot be taken lightly. But, we really hope your car dies soon you can enjoy the freedom and savings of going electric! (There must be a Hallmark card for that, right?)

Not every barrier addressed has a simple answer. Going electric can be awesome, but you need to be prepared and well informed. We hope we have been able to provide many helpful answers to your questions. We don’t want the conversation to end here.  If you’re reading this and think of more barriers or ways to reduce them we would love to hear from you.  We are happy to connect you with other EV drivers as well.

Dory Larsen
Dory joined the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy in 2017 and was named Senior Electric Transportation Program Manager in 2023. She is working to accelerate the transition to electric vehicles…
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