High EV prices and sparse chargers damper the government’s vehicle emissions push

High EV prices and sparse chargers damper the government’s vehicle emissions push
Written by Techbot
The average EV is still too expensive for the average American
The average EV is still too expensive for the average American

Half of Americans don’t want an electric car as their next vehicle, it turns out, despite the government’s attempt to transition them from gas-powered engines in a decade or so. The chief reason is that electric cars are still too expensive, but also the charging infrastructure.

While President Biden’s EPA head is gearing up to announce a sweeping change in vehicle emission standards that will all but mandate automakers to ditch ICE, Americans are still very hesitant about electric vehicles. The government wants two thirds of all new vehicles sold in 2032 to be battery-powered, but 60% of Americans surveyed say that electric cars are still too expensive for them, even after the Tesla-induced EV price war.

The AP-NORC poll was conducted among 5,408 adults representative of the US demographics earlier this year, and the results are not very encouraging for personal transport electrification proponents. Not only did only half of the respondents express some level of desire for their next vehicle to run solely on batteries, but just 19% said they are very likely to buy an EV next.

This jibes with the share of households which own electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles, at just 8% of each. Besides the big reason – EV prices – the respondents also cited the lack of proper charging infrastructure as another main obstacle before them even considering an electric car switch. In fact, 75% of the people surveyed said that sparse chargers are one of the reasons they aren’t looking to buy an electric vehicle.

Two thirds simply say that they prefer the lower prices and fueling convenience of gas-powered vehicles for now. As part of its climate change fight, the government is trying to flip those incentives in favor of electric vehicles by doling out a US$7,500 subsidy per new EV purchase and building out a nationwide charging network.

Some results in the AP-NORC poll can be considered encouraging for the government’s electrification efforts. If people could save money on gasoline versus charging an electric vehicle, a commanding 75% majority said they would consider getting one, for instance. Also, younger people under 45 are way more likely to end up with an electric car as their next vehicle.

Still, what the wide-ranging survey on American attitudes towards the unprecedented transition to electric vehicles shows, is that they would first have to fall down in price significantly for the government’s strategy to succeed. The advent of the sub-US$25,000 electric car that is expected to come after 2025 with the Tesla Model 2, VW ID.2all, and other cheap EVs with LFP cells, may therefore finally tip the buying scales in favor of battery-powered vehicles.

On the other hand, the government push towards stricter fuel consumption standards in the 70s resulted in a lot of exempt trucks and SUVs on American roads as unintended consequence, so the jury on the EV transition is still out there. 

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Daniel Zlatev, 2023-04-11 (Update: 2023-04-11)

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