Everyone said EVs would be the next big wave in the auto industry. It's true from the perspective of the sheer number being produced by automakers, but sales figures aren't pointing in the same direction, sadly. Everyone is talking about EVs. Neighbors, friends, relatives, and co-workers are considering one for their next vehicle, but not nearly as many people are actually buying them. What's the reason why? Aren't they the latest in technology? Aren't they greener? What's the downside?

In truth, the adoption rate isn't nearly as good as automakers and legislators thought. The greatest increase in sales is actually in hybrids or PHEVs, instead. With these types of vehicles, drivers get the benefit of efficiency and for PHEV owners, they can commute to and from work on electricity alone but don't have to worry when they can't find a charger. The billions spent by automakers on EVs aren't a waste, but sales forecasts have been modified due to the poor sales and surplus sitting on dealer lots. So, what's going on, and why are EV sales so lackluster?

The Big Push for Electrification

When 2023 began, everyone was on fire over EVs, especially automakers, who were prepared to invest an insane $1.2 trillion by 2030 to build electric vehicles as mainstream models instead of just niche vehicles. More than just building them, they were working on creating their own tech and batteries in-house rather than outsourcing them, a huge commitment that requires big changes for every automaker who wants to get serious market share. The general view of EVs is that they're more convenient, better for the environment, and they're logically a better alternative to internal combustion engines.

Big automakers like General Motors had huge EV aspirations. Their goal of building 100,000 EVs in the second half of 2023 and 400,000 in the first six months of 2024 was very ambitious, part of this big push to make EVs happen. Some carmakers are even lobbying Congress so they can get reduced costs to build more of an EV charging infrastructure.

The Prices Make EVs Prohibitive for Some Car Buyers

Cars are expensive, and EVs cost even more than gas cars, in general. Nobody wants spend a ton on technology they're not fully comfortable with, especially if an EV is their only mode of transportation. A lot is riding on that bet. Currently, the cheapest EV is the Chevy Bolt at $27,495. That's quite a bit less than the average new car price of $50,000. But if you want to get into a bigger electric crossover or SUV, you have to get something like a Nissan Ariya ($44,555 MSRP), a Toyota BZ4X ($43,350 MSRP), or a Telsa Model Y ($43,990 MSRP). That can be quite a bit more than some people want to spend.

Think about it. You're next car choice could very well be electric, but you have to consider that your loan could cost you a grand a month, and that might mean you only have one vehicle. The result is that you're limited to 250-300 miles of range during warmer months, and you have to plan your longer trips along with finding charging stations. That means your car has limitations that perhaps shouldn't exist for an owner with one vehicle. Add the infrastructure problem, and that $50,000 electric vehicle might not seem so appealing anymore.

Infrastructure Hurdles

This could very well be the biggest problem for EV adoption and the most significant factor in less-than-superb sales figures for the segment. We've experienced numerous infrastructure charging problems, ourselves, when testing electric vehicles. Even though the United States added about 16 percent more electric charging stations recently, that does not mean you can find one on every street corner, like you can with gas stations. Even if your town has a ton of them (unlikely), that doesn't necessarily mean that they all work.

We've encountered numerous EV charging stations that can't sync with the charging network app, as well as ones that are simply out of order. Sometimes if you find a working station, it's not up to top charging speeds, which makes your stay much longer. Even a Level 2 charging station will take hours to go from single digits to 100 percent. Is this what customers want? No, especially when you can refuel a gas car full in a few minutes. If you're charging in winter, that means it will take your EV longer to juice up if temps are low and you need your battery to warm up before it can readily accept a charger.

Range Anxiety

Although carmakers are building EVs with tremendous range now, it doesn't completely remote range anxiety. Trust us, we've experienced it every time we get behind the wheel of an electric vehicle, especially when the temperatures are low and everyone else driving an EV is clamoring to find a charger. The longest-range EV exceeds 400 miles, which should be plenty, right? Well, if you queue up the heater to full blast, flick on headlights, and crank up the audio system and heated seats, as well as sport mode, just watch that range drop.

What's more, if you're driving in freezing temps, your battery's range could drop by as much as thirty percent. You don't run into those issues with a gas car, at least not to the same degree, but at least gas stations are everywhere. If you have less than a hundred miles of range on your EV, talk about a major stressor. You might pull up to a charging station, and you've got to wait in line for hours, and charging could take just as long if temperatures are below freezing. Is this a situation you want yourself in? What about a long road trip where finding chargers presents even more of a challenge? Watch that range anxiety stay with you on your entire trip.