A survey by the Union of Concerned Scientists in the U.S. has opened an interesting and very topical debate on electric vehicles. The wide-ranging survey found that 42% of drivers on the road today could use an electric vehicle, assuming they had a recharging station at home or in their vicinity to cover their average daily mileage. The survey confirmed that 69% of U.S. drivers actually drive less than 60 miles per day, although not all have ready access to charging points.
What does this mean for the electric vehicle industry and, perhaps more pertinently, why are so few drivers switching to electric vehicles?
Options for those driving less than 60 miles per day
The Nissan Leaf and the Ford Focus are two electric vehicles which would easily accommodate those travelling less than 60 miles per day. These are highly efficient, very popular, and technologically advanced vehicles which are taking the EV market by storm in the U.S. and indeed many other countries around the world. This survey rubber stamps an array of comments from recent times supporting the EV industry although seeing the data collated in one report brings it all home.
Quote from ElectricForum.com : "While more and more companies are now offering recharging services for the employees - have you seen evidence of this at your place of work?"
The Union of Concerned Scientists estimates that if everyone who could use an EV actually switched from gasoline vehicles this could save around 350 million barrels of oil per year. This would reduce enormously the U.S. dependence upon oil and the billions of dollars spent supplying the country and protecting sources. It is a little surprising that these kinds of surveys and reports have not surfaced on a more regular basis because they perfectly illustrate the fact that electric vehicles are practical and accessible today.
The future of EVs in the U.S.
Slowly but surely, momentum is building within the electric vehicle industry although while 42% of drivers on the roads in the US today could switch, only 1% have actually done this. This leaves a potentially enormous market for the electric vehicle manufacturers of today and strengthens the hopes of many that electric vehicles will become mainstream very soon.
It is also worth noting that the U.S. government has invested billions of dollars into the EV industry with mixed returns. The authorities have received some significant criticism as some of these investments have not been as successful as hoped, even though there is no doubt that progress is being made. Interestingly, the US government seems now to have changed its focus more towards the battery technology sector, announcing an array of partnerships and consortiums for the future.
While 69% of US drivers travel less than 60 miles per day, 42% of US drivers could switch to electric vehicles today with no impact on their driving habits it seems that the message that electric vehicles are practical and here to stay has not reached its intended market. When you also bear in mind that just 1% of those who could switch today have switched already, this would indicate a significant market for the EV manufacturers to target. What will it take to get the message across?