While industry insiders argue about whether electric vehicles will take over the road or fade into obscurity, consumers have already answered the question. From the Nissan Leaf to the Chevy Volt to the Audi E-Tron, electric vehicles are EVERYWHERE, especially in busy urban areas such as NYC, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Miami. But EVs, even Teslas, are also showing up in places no one would expect to see them, including the mid-west and rural areas. As the number of EVs on the road increases every year, there seems to be no end in sight for the growth of the industry.
Early adopters of electric vehicles were almost universally interested in EVs as a way to reduce the use of fossil fuels that create global warming. These drivers have a much higher rate of solar energy adoption and have a greener home while saving money compared to the general population, and plan most of their buying decisions around what is best for the planet long term. While early adopters may have been primarily interested in broader societal benefits, it may have been word-of-mouth about the personal advantages of EV ownership that drove the electric vehicle boom.
Early adopters have also enjoyed record breaking deals, such as $7,500 federal tax rebates, and state rebates which often exceeded $2,000, making the least expensive EVs almost half price. According to Inhabit’s “Early Adopters Lead New York City’s Electric Car Revolution”, they also publicized information such the difference between the cost of fueling a gas-powered vehicle vs. an EV for a year ($1,117 vs. $485), encouraging friends and relatives to give EVs a try. Toll discounts, HOV-lane and carpool lane exemptions, and time of use discounts on electricity all fueled the EV revolution.
Early adopters lived with issues such as short range, high cost, long charging times, no towing capability, and a shortage of charging stations, though, like current buyers, they benefitted from little to no maintenance other than a battery change approximately every decade.
Many of those early adopters are now current buyers, replacing their 10-year-old EVs with a new one this 2020. Many more consumers also got the message that EVs are a financially solid choice, however.
Consumers now enjoy faster charging, range as long or longer than gas-powered vehicles, new EV trucks with towing capacity, and a choice of EV charging stations. The biggest change, however, may mean more money left in the buyer’s pockets.
According to Consumer Report’s Special Report on EVs, “The biggest change to the marketplace, however, is that unlike a decade ago, vehicles no longer sit in only two camps: less expensive EVs with short range and compromised comfort and space, and very expensive EVs that offer more range but with big luxury-car prices.” Consumers can find longer rage and reasonable prices in the same vehicle. Best of all, deals and rebates early adopters enjoyed are often completely, or partly, still in effect, meaning federal, state, and even city tax credits can still be enjoyed by buyers.
Everyone knows EVs abound in major cities like NYC, but mostly in ones with warmer climates like Los Angeles and Miami, which already have charging station infrastructure. Introducing EVs into rural areas, especially those with cold weather, is more difficult. With longer distances to drive and an absence of charging stations, EVs have never seemed practical for country dwellers. With the advancement in range, however, EVs are popping up in rural areas. Part of the solution may be encouraging stations to use their portion of the Volkswagen Diesel Emissions Environmental Mitigation Trust (VW Trust) to build charging stations. According to the article “Paving the Way for Electric Vehicles in Rural America”, 15% of each state’s portion of the trust can be used to build charging stations and bring clean energy to rural communities.
Are EVs REALLY that Popular?
According to BBC News, there are already more than 4 million EVs on the road globally, and the number will only increase. Colin McKerracher, head of advanced transport at Bloomberg New Energy Finance believes by the mid-2020s, when electric vehicles "will cost the same as ones powered by internal combustion engines", the number on the road will explode. Already, many EV models are in the below-$35,000 category, where most buyers are looking to stay.
According to Cars.com, 20% of consumers (50 million people) are likely to buy an EV for their next car. Armed with advanced technology and lower prices, the EV market share has nowhere to go but up.