The Electric Vehicle Tipping Point: Is The World Ready To Switch?
Guest Post by: Bill Widmer, an environment enthusiast and adventure traveller
Since the early 2000s, environmentally conscious consumers have been excited to witness the rise of hybrid and electric vehicles (EV), but manufacturers took a while to respond to the demand.
Now, in 2022, 87 countries have reached an EV tipping point, and it’s clear the world’s appetite for an alternative to gas cars has grown.
It’s been a slow start for major auto manufacturers to fully accept it and begin to roll out electric models, but now that the market has gained momentum, we may see a full adoption of electric by the end of the 2020s.
Current Market Share of Electric Vehicles
While some of the initial hype surrounding electric vehicles may have dwindled in the last decade, studies show the tipping point for EVs is now.
2022 has been the biggest year for EVs yet—by the third quarter of the year, electric vehicle sales had risen by 37% compared to the same time in 2021. The percentage of new car sales that were electric reached over 7% in 2022—this is significant because once disruptive technologies reach above 5%, mass adoption usually follows.
According to a study by Consumer Reports which interviewed 8,000 people, 14% of participants say they will be buying an electric vehicle and 22% are seriously considering it for their next car.
When considering plug-in hybrids as well as fully electric vehicles, the market share is even larger—over 10% of light-duty car sales from 2014-2021 were a hybrid, electric, or plug-in hybrid (2022 U.S Energy Information Administration).
Car Manufacturers’ Commitment to EVs
You’re probably familiar with some of the big players in the EV market such as Tesla, but other major automakers are finally starting to focus on the rapidly accelerating demand for electric cars.
Automakers like Toyota, GM, Jaguar, and Volvo have announced ambitious plans to electrify or offer an electric version of many or all of their vehicles by 2035. Others such as Honda and Hyundai will be close behind, promising the same of their fleet by 2040.
While the industry offers plenty of compact and sedan EVs, there’s also a growing interest in expanding the market for electric pickup trucks. Automaker, Rivian, led the way for this with their R1T and R1S electric truck models in 2022, but Toyota and GM are following closely behind.
In a 2021 announcement from Toyota, at least 15 all-electric or plug-in hybrids were introduced to launch before the end of the decade, to include an all new electric Tacoma truck.
GM also has already introduced the 2023 Ford F-150 Lightning to the EV market.
With so many different vehicle manufacturers finally making the change towards making gas-powered cars a thing of the past, we can expect to see mass EV adoption by consumers in the next few years.
How Electric Vehicles Impact the Planet
Some consumers believe that electric vehicles are not any more environmentally friendly than gasoline cars because of the electricity they require, but studies have proven that this is a myth.
Over their lifetime, EVs have a significantly lower carbon footprint than cars with an internal combustion engine.
This is because fully electric vehicles don’t have tailpipe emissions, so the bulk of their impact on the planet comes from their manufacturing and charging.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, most battery electric vehicles are chargeable with a standard household 120 volt outlet, so the carbon pollution caused by charging an EV is associated with the average household energy use of an EV owner.
Depending on how local power is generated, the emissions may be even smaller. In 2020, renewable energy—energy created by natural resources—became the second most common energy source. This means EV owners living in an area with a wind or solar powered electricity grid can charge their car while producing the least amount of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
Even when accounting for the greenhouse gases produced in the production of an EV, the overall emissions pale in comparison to those produced by gas-powered cars over the lifetime of the vehicle. Electric vehicles emit zero GHG throughout their entire lifecycle, making them significantly more ecofriendly than their gas-powered counterparts.
EVs have proven to be far more ecofriendly than gas cars and in 2022, we reached the electric car tipping point for limiting GHG emissions and reducing the effects of climate change.
This is great news, especially considering renewable energy met the rise in electricity demand in Q1 of 2022.
What is Needed for EV Adoption
It’s clear that electric vehicles are the key to a cleaner future with less global emissions. Currently, transportation is the largest source of GHG emissions in the world, so what needs to happen for the mass adoption of EVs globally?
One of the main barriers of an EV for consumers is the market price. EVs are overall cheaper to own than gas cars and can save owners about $1,000 a year on fuel and maintenance costs, but the average sticker price of an EV is a staggering $66,000.
With so many automakers joining the EV movement in 2023, we can expect to see the average price begin to drop.
Another reason consumers may hold back on making the switch to EV is range anxiety. Some people doubt the capabilities of electric cars when it comes to traveling long distances. While there are some fully electric vehicles with a rather short range, many of the automakers planning to release an EV in the coming years are aiming for a driving range of between 300 and 400 miles per charge.
To relieve your range anxiety, there are currently 116,000 charging stations across the U.S, so longer trips in your EV are not impossible. Aside from the existing public charging infrastructure, 240 volt outlets can be installed at home for fast EV charging and many apartment communities have also begun offering EV charge ports.
Even though the EV market is rapidly expanding, there are still things automakers and governments must do before widespread adoption can really take off in the U.S.
Beginning in January 2023, incentives for new car sales include a $7,500+ tax credit and upwards of $4,000 for used electric car sales. Incentives can make buying an EV more accessible to lower and middle class consumers, which sends a signal to automakers to create more EV models.
All of this, in turn, will lead to the creation of more charging infrastructure across the country and eventually, mass EV adoption.
How This Will Help the Planet
While it’s been a slow walk towards an EV future by automakers, the tipping point for battery electric vehicles is upon us.
Early adopters of EVs have signaled to consumers and automakers that the world is ready for fully electric cars. EV sales are expected to rise throughout the decade, creating a demand for widespread charging infrastructure, which will make mass adoption possible.
By the end of the decade, total EV sales are expected to reach 31.1 million—this means 32% of all new car sales could be electric or plug-in hybrids in 2030.
Slowing the effects of climate change is crucial for public health and for our planet, the growth of battery electric vehicles is a great step towards a cleaner future. Now that there’s a trend established, we’re hopeful consumers get onboard with the shift towards electric.