At one time, electric vehicles were thought of as slow, short-range nuisances, however ever since the introduction of the Model S (You could even argue the Roadster), Tesla Motors has pushed the boundaries of the auto industry. Elon Musk and company brought EVs to the bleeding-edge of automotive technology with long-range driving, high speeds, blinding acceleration, and supercharging. However much excitement exists around Tesla, EVs haven't yet taken off in the US, but they are about to.
Which begs the question what is holding US buyers back?
At this point, its obvious the automotive industry sees electric vehicles as the future. With nearly a dozen new well funded electric vehicle startups and almost every major automotive manufacturer building a new electric vehicle by 2020 its easy to see EVs are well on their way to overtaking gas-powered vehicles. However promising the industry looks there are a few things that are holding it back.
Which Came First The Tesla or The Charger?
It's no secret the number one reason many choose to "wait and see" with electric vehicles is the lack of charging infrastructure. So far many building owners are also adopting the same attitude towards installing EV charging stations. It's the quintessential chicken or the egg problem and no one wants to make the first move.
It turns out most people who own an EV actually don't charge at public stations
Tesla for its part has done a great bit of marketing with the Supercharger network. By installing a coast-to-coast charging network they put buyers at ease that they would always have a place to charge, but along the way, something funny happened. It turns out most people who own an EV actually don't charge at public stations. In fact, 97% of EV drivers charge at work or home when one or both are available. EverCharge's own data suggests this is true as well.
In one of our San Francisco buildings we gave all 600 residents the ability to install chargers directly in their space, when we started last year we signed up 10 owners, already the building has 45 drivers actively charging daily with EverCharge. As it turned out many of the residents wanted an EV but were simply waiting until the ability to conveniently charge at home was provided, proving that if you build chargers the EV drivers will come.
Building a Better, Less Costly Battery
The problem for EVs extends beyond charging infrastructure. While many prospective buyers eagerly await the release of the Model 3, the fact remains that for most, even the long-range, low-end, government subsidized EVs are on the pricey side and that's a real problem. At $35k the Chevy Bolt and Model 3 are relatively affordable EVs compared to the $60k+ price tag on the Model S, but even at $35k that puts these vehicles on par with BMW 3-series, is still too high for the average consumer.
So where's all that money go? The battery of course.
Right now Tesla claims the average cost/kWh is ~$190, that plus a 30% markup (so Tesla can stay profitable) is what brings the Model 3 price tag to $35k. In simpler terms, the cost/kWh needs to drop, alot, but that actually appears to be happening. Since 2010 the cost/kWh has dropped 77% from $1000 to $227, and continues to fall meaning it won't be long until we hit sub-$100 prices. At that point, EVs become competitive with even low-end internal combustion engines.
The US automotive market its incredibly hard to convince, however, it appears that Tesla has slowly won over the minds of many, however that's only half the battle. Without adequate access to charging and lower barriers to entry EVs will continue to sit just out of reach for the everyday consumer.