I always love a great debate! Tim Burrows, Director of EV Society and I debate the wide scale adoption of Electric Vehicles (EVs). For Tim, fuel costs will weight heavy on consumers minds in making their decisions, in addition to the impact on climate change. For me, I believe that consumers ultimately think about two factors: practicality and cost. Right now, EVs are not comparable to Internal Combustion Engines (ICE) in all scenarios (e.g., towing in winter months). As well, the cost for an average EV is anywhere from 20-30 percent higher than a comparable ICE vehicle. For these reasons, I do not believe EVs will be adopted as quickly as Tim may suggest.
This conversation was really fascinating and one that demonstrates how we can all learn from each other when trying to think about these grandiose shifts in technology and entire sectors.
What is EV Society?
EV Society Canada is a non-profit organization that promotes the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) in Canada. It aims to educate the public about the benefits of EVs and to advocate for policies that support the growth of the EV market. Some of the organization’s activities include hosting events, providing information and resources on EVs, and working with government and industry stakeholders to promote EV adoption.
Should Government Provide More Education and Awareness on EVs?
EV Society helps provide education and awareness on electric vehicles, but there is also a role for governments as well. Governments can implement a variety of education campaigns to inform the public about the benefits of electric vehicles (EVs) and to promote their adoption. Here are a few examples:
- Public awareness campaigns: Governments can create public awareness campaigns that inform the public about the benefits of EVs and dispel myths or misconceptions about them. These campaigns can include TV and radio commercials, billboards, and print advertisements.
- Online resources: Governments can create and maintain websites and social media accounts that provide information about EVs, such as their benefits, the different types of EVs available, and where to find charging stations.
- Community events: Governments can organize community events such as EV test-drive events, EV expos and information sessions, that allow the public to see and experience EVs firsthand.
- Educational programs: Governments can create educational programs for schools, such as curriculum materials and teacher training, that teach students about EVs, their environmental benefits, and how they work.
- Incentives for EV purchase: Governments can offer incentives for consumer to purchase EVs such as tax credits, rebates, or carpool lane access.
- Partnering with industry and organizations: Governments can also partner with EV manufacturers, EV charging companies and EV advocacy organizations to promote EV adoption, and to reach a broader audience through their networks and platforms.
Should Consumers be Concerned with Range Anxiety?
For Tim, planning ahead will be important with EVs. The navigation system will tell you how much range you will have and unless you are not paying attention to the screens in front of you, the range anxiety dissipates.
While range anxiety is a legitimate concern for some consumers, it is important to note that most modern EVs have a range that is sufficient for most daily commuting needs, and the range of EVs is continually improving. Additionally, there are several ways to address range anxiety, such as:
- Planning ahead: With the help of online tools or smartphone apps, EV owners can plan their route and identify charging stations along the way.
- Charging at home: Most EV owners charge their vehicle at home overnight, so they always start the day with a full charge.
- Public charging infrastructure: Governments and private companies are investing in the development of public charging infrastructure, which makes it more convenient for EV owners to charge their vehicles when away from home.
- Fast-charging networks: Some EV manufacturers are also building fast-charging networks, which allow EV owners to charge their vehicles quickly and get back on the road in less time.
- Battery technology improvements: Battery technology is improving rapidly, and the range of EVs is increasing, and the cost of batteries is decreasing.
It’s worth noting that the range of an EV can be affected by a variety of factors, such as temperature, terrain, and driving habits. However, for most consumers, the range of modern EVs is more than sufficient for their daily needs, and the range anxiety is less of an issue.
Should Incentives Exist for EVs?
There are a variety of ways governments can help consumers purchase their first EVs. The counter argument is that incentives may not be enough if consumers are not choosing the technology – however, if there are greater mandates for EV adoption, governments will be forced to provide incentives. These may include the following:
- Financial incentives: Governments can offer financial incentives to consumers to purchase EVs, such as tax credits, rebates, or exemptions from certain taxes. This can make the up-front cost of an EV more affordable for consumers.
- Research and Development: Governments can invest in research and development of EV technology, which can help to bring down costs over time through innovation and economies of scale.
- Charging infrastructure: Governments can invest in building charging infrastructure, which can make it more convenient for EV owners to charge their vehicles and reduce “range anxiety”.
- Mandates: Governments can mandate the use of EVs in government fleets and public transportation, which can help to drive demand for EVs and bring down costs through economies of scale.
- Battery recycling: Governments can invest in recycling and repurposing of EV batteries, which can help to lower the cost of batteries, a key component of EVs.
Should we Remove the Phrase ‘Zero Emissions’ for EVs?
It’s worth noting that while EVs themselves produce zero tailpipe emissions, the electricity used to power them may be generated from fossil fuels, leading to emissions at power plants.
Whether or not to remove the phrase “zero emissions” for EVs is a matter of debate. On one hand, it is true that EVs do not produce tailpipe emissions, and this can have a significant impact on air quality in urban areas. On the other hand, it is also true that the electricity used to power EVs may lead to emissions at power plants, depending on the source of the electricity.
It’s important to note that the emissions associated with EVs are dependent on the source of the electricity used to charge them. If the majority of the electricity used to charge EVs is from renewable sources such as solar and wind, the overall emissions associated with EVs will be lower.
Will Consumers Choose EVs?
The cost of EVs is one of the factors that can affect consumer choice when it comes to purchasing an EV. While the price of EVs has been decreasing over time, they are still generally more expensive than their internal combustion engine (ICE) counterparts. However, consumers are also considering the total cost of ownership when choosing an EV, which includes factors such as fuel costs, maintenance costs, and resale value.
Some consumers are willing to pay more upfront for an EV because they believe the lower operating costs, such as cheaper electricity costs compared to gasoline, and the potential for government incentives make the total cost of ownership more competitive. Additionally, many consumers are also motivated by environmental and sustainability considerations, which may make them more willing to pay a higher upfront cost for an EV.
However, not all consumers can afford to pay more for an EV, as the upfront cost is still a significant barrier for many. Governments and private companies are investing in programs to make EVs more affordable for consumers through incentives, such as tax credits, rebates, and financing options.
The rate at which consumers switch to electric vehicles (EVs) can depend on a number of factors, such as the availability and cost of EVs, the availability and cost of charging infrastructure, and consumer awareness and perception of EVs. The rate of adoption of EVs is expected to continue to increase in the coming years, but the pace of this growth can vary significantly depending on the specific market and region.
In some countries and regions, such as Norway, the adoption rate of EVs is relatively high, while in other regions it is still relatively low. Factors such as government incentives, the availability of charging infrastructure, and the availability of models can affect the rate of adoption in different markets.
As the technology of EVs continues to improve, their range and capabilities are increasing, and the cost of EVs continues to decrease, the rate of adoption of EVs is expected to accelerate. Additionally, as the demand for EVs increases, more charging infrastructure will be built to support them, making it easier for consumers to charge their vehicles and reducing “range anxiety”.