There are few of us today who aren’t concerned about the prospect of the irreversible effects of climate change. There’s a sense of urgency at the moment too; we have a need to make significant changes before we get closer to crossing that destructive line. A recent survey conducted by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication showed that more than 60 percent of respondents accepted that climate change was primarily due to human influence. As a result, many of us are looking at methods to reduce our impact on the environment, including our choice of vehicle.
However, while we may understand that adopting hybrid or electric vehicles (EVs) into our lives is a step in the right direction, there is also the consideration of budget. The technology involved is not always within our financial means. There is also the question of whether our infrastructure is able to support our EV use wherever we need to go.
In order for EVs to have a lasting effect on our environment, it is clear that there needs to be a greater focus on accessibility. We’re going to take a look at some of the steps that should be taken in order to improve the adoption of EV use. Is accessibility practical in the near future, and how can more of us afford this advanced green tech?
Expanding the Demographic
As with any relatively new technology, in the beginning, the target demographic is usually limited to those who can pay premium prices for it. Add to that the tendency for the mass market consumer culture to lean toward lower-priced, disposable items and we don’t exactly have a recipe for accessible sustainability. In order to have some expectation of success, it could be imperative to expand the target demographic of EVs.
Current statistics suggest that older generations have a greater ability to invest in green technology, as they own more than half of U.S. household wealth. While Boomers may have the financial ability to purchase EVs it seems they are not always convinced of the impact they have. The majority of EVs are still purchased by Gen Xers (39.8%).
Millennials, on the other hand, have a huge stake in climate change, yet an average annual salary of just $47,034. While there is certainly something to be said for lowering the price of technology, expanding the demographic is also about driving useful, convincing knowledge to the older generations who can already afford to buy. Greater sales across these older generations may also see increased investment in making the technology more affordable for the younger generation.
Infrastructure to Improve Access
Finances and ecological interest are certainly important factors in improving accessibility of EVs, but they’re not the be-all and end-all. In order for more people to adopt them as part of their lifestyles, there needs to be a focus placed on investing in infrastructure that supports their use. This includes investing in refueling options beyond major urban areas.
Despite the push for the adoption of renewable fueling methods, most cities still do not have sufficient charging stations to support widespread EV use. In fact, a 2019 report by Forbes suggests that a few refueling points away from the home, and the lack of fast-charging pumps can make EVs an impractical option for many Americans. was one of the three top reasons people were reluctant to adopt EV use. Let’s face it, people aren’t going to be able to take long trips in their EVs if they can’t be certain they’ll be able to recharge conveniently.
Governments and private fuel providers, therefore, have a key role to play in accessibility. By undertaking investment into charging stations throughout the country, and making it clear that these options are as available as traditional fuel, it may help to shift the public perception on EV usability. Aside from a purely practical standpoint, it is also part of the government’s remit to place emphasis and resources on population health, including social and economic factors that can affect the general good health of citizens. The inclusion of these green fuelling elements in the infrastructure of towns and cities may help to reduce the urban emissions that pollute the atmosphere and have a detrimental effect on the health of the populace.
While many of us would like to look at a vehicle and decide to buy it based purely on ideological and economic considerations, that’s not the reality. There are few of us who can make most of our purchases without looking at the price tag, let alone drive off an EV without thinking of the content of our wallets. So, apart from waiting for manufacturers themselves to introduces affordable electric and hybrid cars for the masses, what steps can we ecologically and economically conscious among us take to help make certain we have access to this green technology?
Affording any car on a minimum wage can be a challenge, let alone an electric one. That doesn’t mean they’re out of reach. Loans may be an option, and as indicated in the resource buyers may have access to a greater range of lending options if they take the time to build their credit score. However, auto loans come in various shapes and sizes, and many providers now offer lower interest rates for those who are seeking to invest in electric or sustainable fuel-powered vehicles. Certainly, it can be worth your time to scout for used electric and hybrid vehicles, but the reality is these are still relatively new products to the market, so finding them can be a challenge. They do crop up now and then, but you’re more likely to find the older models such as the 2013 Nissan Leaf, rather than a Tesla for under $15,000.
When considering the affordability of an electric car, many buyers are put off by the ticket price, and may not have considered the overall savings that can be made in comparison to gas vehicles. In 2017, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported Americans spent on average $1072 per year on gasoline. While there are no statistics on yearly averages for EVs, the U.S. Department of Energy is reporting a full vehicle charge with a 70-mile range to cost on average $2.64 — even if users were charging every day, this would still come in under the gas price.
Though electric vehicles may be a vital tool in reducing our impact upon the planet, in order for this to be effective there needs to be widespread adoption. Electric vehicles are still not accessible to the majority of the population. Manufacturers need to place a greater focus on expanding the demographic of buyers, and governments must invest in reliable infrastructure to support EV use. Buyers themselves should also put time into researching how EVs can be an affordable option for them both upon immediate purchase, and in the long term.