Guest Commentary, Automotive News

Guest Commentary: The Dream of Affordable EVs for Everyone is a Ways Away

by CRAIG BOUCHARD (as seen in Automotive News)
Chairman of Ecolution Power Co.

While the U.S. isn’t yet ready for the full-scale implementation of electric vehicles, the conversion to electric is still a good idea.

Over the past few years, the country has enacted legislation, such as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the Inflation Reduction Act, to promote the production and consumer adoption of electric vehicles. These efforts are admirable, and will assist in moving our country toward impactful environmental protection. EVs bring an immense amount of value to our world, but as a nation, we have to overcome a few obstacles before the dream of solely using electric vehicles becomes a reality.

With the laws in place, manufacturers now need more resources to roll out larger quantities of their products. EV batteries are made from naturally occurring materials, which could be a problem for manufacturers. CNBC reported that Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares said “he expects a shortage of EV batteries by 2024 to 2025, followed by a lack of raw materials for the vehicles that will slow the availability and adoption of EVs by 2027 to 2028.”

Even with these anticipated shortages, having the laws in place that will lead to a decrease in unclean vehicles on our roadways is a step in the right direction, but our expectations must stay realistic until we find more ways to obtain the necessary materials.

Until EVs are as mainstream as gasoline-powered vehicles, the price points for a majority of those on the market are not attainable for many drivers. In 2020, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that the median income for households was $67,521. The average price for an EV is $66,000, while the average price for a gasoline-powered vehicle is $47,000. As Jack Ewing from The New York Times writes, “… electric vehicles remain largely the province of the rich.”

Once EVs become a necessity rather than a novelty, there will be more wallet-friendly options that align with income standards for the majority of consumers, but for now, low supply and high demand accompanied by expensive materials means automakers don’t have to lower their prices.

We are at least five years away from fast-charging vehicles, which could help resolve some of the challenges we now face.

While it may be unlikely for EVs to completely lose power, it will happen more often when there’s an increase of them on the road. At present, there are no formal plans in any state when it comes to “rescuing” EVs that have run out of battery and are sitting on the side of a highway. When a car runs out of battery, it must be towed to a charging station, which can be a time-consuming process depending on how far the closest one is.

To counter this, towing companies are slowly adding charging technology to their roadside-assistance vehicles. Companies that have mobile chargers can supply an EV with enough power to make it to its intended destination. Adding this equipment to roadside- assistance vehicles is a proactive enhancement in the EV space ahead of the widespread adoption of these models.

At the end of the day, the U.S. is not yet ready for full-scale implementation of EVs. However, that is not to say the conversion to electric isn’t a good idea.

It is a necessary implementation, but it must be done right and it should be market-based.

Once we overcome the challenges of sourcing materials and making vehicle prices consumer-friendly, the U.S. will be on a path toward taking a multitude of significant strides with electric vehicles.