Electric cars have become more popular in recent years. Yet, many U.S. consumers remain hesitant to plunk down their cash for an electric vehicle or hybrid car.
A Deloitte survey from earlier this year found that 69% of those polled prefer to buy a gasoline-powered car as their next vehicle. There are several reasons why drivers remain reluctant to embrace electric cars. In many cases, these concerns are tied to long-standing issues that date back to the early days of the electric car industry.
Several of those problems are being resolved, but people still have their doubts and are hesitant to invest their money in an EV. Here are the reasons why consumers continue to be wary of electric vehicles.
Lack of car model choices
For many people, electric cars do not offer a wide enough variety of choices. Some want bigger, SUV-sized cars, others want sportier rides. Traditionally, electric cars have been sedans.
One big issue with widespread electric car adoption is the lack of electric trucks. In rural areas, trucks are essential for work and transport. Automakers are acutely aware of this issue and are trying to remedy it. Several have electric trucks in the works, such as Ford's F-150 Lightning. Toyota, Tesla and other automakers are all rolling out electric trucks soon.
This is an immediate hurdle for consumers. For years, fully electric cars were much more expensive, in part due to materials and battery costs. The price has dropped recently, however. While some upper-level models — such as new Teslas — carry higher sticker prices, automakers now are offering more affordable electric vehicles as well.
Still, electric cars tend to have significantly higher sticker prices than their gas-powered counterparts. Kelley Blue Book data from earlier this year found that the average cost for buying an electric vehicle is $62,876, about $15,000 higher than the overall industry average.
Of course, overall fuel cost savings can offset that additional cost over time. While electric cars have additional costs tied to home charging station infrastructure, there are federal tax credits worth several thousand dollars available for many buyers.
Pro-tip: Buying a new car, or even a first car? Make sure you have everything you need in place, including the best auto insurance.
Charging infrastructure challenges
Electric vehicles pique a lot of interest among drivers. Nearly three-quarters of people polled by Consumer Reports said they might get an electric car at some point. Those who care about climate change see the benefit in moving away from fossil fuels.
But before you buy a Tesla, you face a practical concern: How will you charge the car? And, for that matter, how much does it cost to charge a Tesla? If you live in multifamily housing, there might not be the infrastructure at home to reliably recharge the vehicle. That can leave you at the mercy of public charging stations, which might not be easy to find.
Long charging times
In another practicality issue, people are worried about how long it takes to “fill up” electric vehicles. While gasoline-powered cars take only a few minutes to gas up at the pump, it takes longer to give electric vehicles the charge they need to keep running.
For many models, overnight charging of around eight hours has been the norm. Fortunately, that may be changing. Some projections say that within a few years, it might take just minutes to fully charge a car. And even now, some cars can reach 80% or more of a full charge in under an hour.
Even if someone lives in a city with good charging infrastructure, they have to worry about what happens when they drive away from the friendly confines of their metro area. This is one of the bigger challenges facing the electric car industry.
Newer model electric vehicles can go for 200 miles or more on a full charge. But if someone is traveling across the country, particularly in rural areas, finding a place to charge the car can be difficult.
No one wants to get stranded on the open road. Even if help arrives, it might not be equipped to assist you with electric vehicles. There are several public and private sector projects underway to create networks of charging stations around the country. In addition, the Department of Energy has a map of electric vehicle charging sites that currently are operating.
The need for speed
Some drivers need large cars for work or transporting family to school. Others like to be able to cruise. Some of the best-known hybrid or electric cars — think the Nissan Leaf or Toyota Prius — are not known or marketed as sports cars.
However, there are several models on the market now that can easily hit speeds of 160 mph or higher. Lotus, Porsche and Tesla all have high-speed electric vehicles. That power comes at a price: Many of these vehicles cost at least six figures.
Worries about fires
One safety issue that has dogged the electric car industry in recent years is concern about fires. Images of several models, including Teslas, engulfed in flames have made the rounds.
It is rare for electric cars to catch fire, according to data compiled by researchers. However, the lithium batteries used by electric vehicles can cause spectacular fires that are hard to extinguish.
Are you looking at a new car, but struggle to get past your concerns about electric vehicles? Many of the issues that have affected the electric car market in the past are being addressed, with better infrastructure and charging equipment becoming more widespread.
These vehicles are eco-friendly and increasingly accessible as automakers create more mainstream models that often look indistinguishable from your regular gas-guzzling car. And with gas prices still high amid surging inflation this year, it might be worth the investment to give electric automobiles another look.