A recent study conducted by scientists at the University of Geneva in Switzerland indicates many consumers underestimate the range capabilities of today’s EV offerings and overestimate how much electric range they would need for day-to-day driving.
The University of Geneva researchers interviewed more than 2,000 motorists of different backgrounds and ages in both Germany and the United States and found that many drivers were unaware of the capabilities of the current crop of electric vehicles and underestimated them in comparison with their needs. They also found that more than 90 percent of car trips could be completed with vehicles with a driving range of 200 kilometers, or 124 miles, which would be considered a very low maximum usable range for an EV by today’s standards.
One of the researchers, Mario Herberz, said that while many automakers are focused on creating more energy-dense batteries to increase the range of their products, this should not be needed based on many consumers’ current driving habits.
“The trend is to increase performance, but we have observed that a greater range, beyond 300 kilometers (186 miles) for example, does not increase the fit to daily needs. It would only have a minimal impact on the number of additional trips that can be completed with one electric charge. Increasing the size of the batteries is therefore not a key element in the energy transition.”
The answer to this problem, Herberz said, is to educate consumers on the capabilities of electric vehicles in comparison to their driving habits.
“To reassure people, the solution is not only to densify the network of charging stations or to increase the size of batteries, which require scarcer resources such as lithium and cobalt,” he said. “It is the provision of information adapted to the concrete needs of drivers that will reduce their concern and increase their willingness to adopt an electric vehicle.”
Another kay barrier to EV adoption at the moment is price. While EVs are beginning to come down in price compared to internal combustion engine equivalents, they still carry a steep price premium that makes them hard to justify for many Americans. It’s therefore likely that EV adoption will begin to increase in the U.S. once more affordable offerings are on the market. GM is making an effort to offer more affordable EVs, significantly lowering the price of the Chevy Bolt EV and Bolt EUV for the 2023 model year and teaming up with Honda to develop budget-minded EVs for both North America and Europe.