Electric vehicles (EVs) have answered the call for a more environmentally friendly mode of transportation. However, despite the popularity of the idea of the EV, this form of smart mobility is a long way from becoming mainstream. Read about four main barriers that prevent widespread adoption of electric vehicles around the world. Start your engines – this post is going to take you for a much-enjoyed ride.
#1 – A lack of charging stations
Though on the rise, the number of electric charging stations around the world remains limited. As of September 2018, there are just 22,000 public charging stations in the entirety of North America that are capable of supplying 60 to 80 miles (96.5 to 128.7 km) of driving power for every 20 minutes of charging. This is just one-seventh of the amount of gas stations in the same geographic area.
A recent survey indicates that among consumers mulling the purchase of an electric vehicle, a lack of available charging stations is the biggest deterrent. If car owners don’t have access to a charging station at their home, place of work, places of leisure, such as shopping malls, and at
regular intervals along the highway, they simply will not be driven to buy.
#2 – Battery capacity vs. charging time
Depending on the size of the electric vehicle’s battery and the speed of the connected charging point, it can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 12 hours to fully charge an EV. What’s more, charging rates can vary as a result of the ambient temperature, battery state (empty vs. half full) and the vehicle’s respective maximum charging rate. This would not be a significant barrier, if a full battery would last the entire day. However, as EV drivers can realistically only traverse 80-300 miles (128.7-482.8 km) with a single full charge, the inability to top up for lengthy periods while on the go leaves many a would-be EV owner fearing the risk of being stranded roadside without a charge.
#3 – The need to plan charging routines ahead of time
In light of the two above-mentioned barriers, EV drivers must carefully plan when and where they will charge their vehicle’s battery, especially ahead of long commutes or road trips. And while several apps and navigation systems have been designed to help plan driving routes around charging stations, these routes could temporarily divert drivers from their optimal course, adding time and kilometers to their journeys.
A potential light at the end of the tunnel: Powhere uses artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies to develop an assistant that manages the driver’s charging routine. Using Powhere, drivers are freed from the constant planning, calculations and general anxiety surrounding operating an electric vehicle. They simply take the hassle out of EV charging. This is one start-up worth looking out for.
#4 – Frustrating electric infrastructure limitations
According to Prajit Ghosh, head of Americas Power and Renewables Research, the obstacle is twofold: the infrastructure must be able to supply enough energy to quickly charge many electric vehicles AND be able to properly distribute the charge to the right cars, at the right time. This challenge can be likened to the age-old chicken-and-egg problem. To enable the dramatic penetration of electric vehicles, ready access to charging infrastructure is a must. But a prerequisite for the investment of tremendous sums of money into the EV market is the assurance of significant EV demand.
As such, to create viable electric car infrastructure, companies need to piggyback off of existing infrastructure, such as that belonging to the gas station industry, or else try and find available space and build facilities in already overcrowded city zones. Yet, trying to outfit gas stations with
the hardware needed for EV chargers (the faster the better), would still be a slow and costly process.
While electric vehicles remain an exciting and promising innovation – and a key driver of sustainable urban mobility, significant barriers continue to prevent their successful penetration. As the most innovative of minds continue to research and develop EV technology and devise methods for more seamless, cost-effective infrastructure, charging and use, these barriers will break down and a new era of clean transportation will prevail.