Electric vehicles are soaring in popularity, across the country. It’s not an understatement to say they’re the way of the future. Believe it or not, major automakers and large car sales markets have committed to completely phasing out gasoline cars by 2040.
At Lemonade Car, we’re all about protecting the electric vehicles that are powering this eco-friendly automotive revolution. Here’s what you need to know about the state of EVs today (plus a bit of electric car history that’ll make you sound smart in front of your friends).
- Electric cars have been around as long as gas-powered cars, but they’re now making a comeback in a big way.
- EVs are greener than their counterparts, and the number of electric options on the market are increasing every model year.
- Automakers and governments alike are pushing towards an all-electric future to fight climate change and achieve carbon neutrality.
- In the US, a transition to EVs could help the power grid and create jobs.
What percentage of cars in the US are already electric?
As of December 2021, there were over 1.4 million electric cars registered in the US—excluding hybrids (HEVs) or plug-in hybrids (PHEVs), according to the US Department of Energy. And fully electric vehicles reached around 6% of total auto sales in the US in the third Quarter of 2022—a major boost from just 2.2% two years prior. The increase in EV popularity may have something to do with how electric car technology has become more practical for ordinary people.
How it started
Spoiler alert: The electric car phenomena wasn’t invented by Elon Musk. The idea of the electric car has been around since the inception of cars themselves. The first EVs were introduced in the early 1900s, with the first models built in the late 1800s. They had a heyday in the early 1900s as access to electricity spread.
At the turn of the 20th century, about a third of all vehicles on the road were electric vehicles, according to the US Department of Energy. New York City even had a fleet of electric taxis!
At the time, there were several models of EV available. One of the most notable (and expensive) was created by chemist and electrical engineer Oliver P. Fritchle, who pioneered a battery that could travel 100 miles between charges. Like today, these cars were largely charged at home, though some auto repair shops installed chargers of their own.
But a big problem with these early EVs was their cost. By the time the cheaper Ford Model T was produced en masse, and roads between cities were developed, electric cars were overlooked in favor of the cheaper gas-powered car.
Thankfully, things have come full circle. Electric cars are becoming increasingly accessible, and their price point—while significant—isn’t as prohibitive as it once was.
Now that you’ve got that background, still curious how electric cars work? Get the full scoop here.
How it’s going
EVs never fully went away, with some models existing throughout the mid- and late 1900s, though they were generally expensive. But in the late 2010s and early 2020s, more than 100 years after their debut, EVs have been making a serious comeback.
It started with the re-introduction of the hybrid in the early 2000s (cars like the Toyota Prius, the plug-in hybrid Chevrolet Volt). Then came the fully electric Nissan Leaf in 2011, and the fully electric Tesla Model S in June 2012. Fast-forward to the present day, and EVs and hybrids command an impressive share of the automotive market.
Since 2019, the number of electric vehicles has exploded. Increasing gas prices and political shifts (including an acknowledgement of the role gas-powered cars play in climate change), coupled with advances in computer and battery technology, have sparked interest and increased nationwide and global sales of EVs.
By 2021, about five times more electric vehicle models were on the market than in 2015. And in the first quarter of 2022, sales were up 75% from the first quarter of 2021 worldwide. While electric cars once fell out of favor, they’re now in it for the long haul.
What hesitations do drivers still have about EVs?
2020 survey data from Resources for the Future and Stanford University shows that about 57% of future car buyers would consider an EV. But the truth remains: Modern electric cars aren’t perfect, and they might not be right for everyone (yet). There’s still improvements to be made to charging infrastructure, and the higher cost of electric vehicles creates a high barrier to entry for many Americans.
Let’s dive into some specific areas of interest.
With EVs tending to cost more than the typical gas-powered car, cost can be a hurdle for those wanting to switch to electric. The reason for the hefty price tag is simple: Battery packs aren’t cheap to manufacture. Yes, you’ll likely end up saving money on gas and maintenance down the road, and you might also be eligible for tax incentives if you buy an EV. But the higher upfront costs are still worth mulling over.
Range anxiety (i.e. the fear that a battery will run out before you’ve made it to a charger) is a real thing. There are some exceptions, but the typical electric vehicle needs a few hours to reach a full charge, while the typical gas car takes only a few minutes to refuel.
Improvements in technology are helping EVs go the distance—like these top mileage electric SUVs. But access to charging infrastructure (or a lack of access) might still give prospective EV buyers pause, depending on where they live and how far they drive.
This goes hand in hand with range anxiety. About 46% of Americans surveyed in the Resources for the Future survey believe it would be extremely difficult or very difficult to find an EV charging station.
There are just under 50,000 public EV charging stations currently listed on the US Department of Energy’s website. Of those, about 43,000 are fast charging stations that can charge vehicles in as little as 30 minutes.
This number doesn’t account for traditional wall outlets in parking areas that allow you to bring your own charger, and some private stations that the public can also access. Charging app PlugShare’s database shows far more options, with over 250,000 EV charging plugs across the US and Canada.
In rural areas, charging structures still have a long way to go. And even with plenty of apps available to help EV drivers find chargers, more charging stations available could help ease drivers’ anxiety.
Amount of electricity needed and how it’s sourced
Many people are uncertain of electric vehicle adoption because of the US’s electric grid. During a September 2022 heat wave in California, officials asked people to avoid charging electric vehicles at peak hours to prevent straining the state’s power grid and avoid rolling blackouts, Axios reported.
Across the country, drivers became skeptical about whether the power grid could truly handle EV adoption. The reality is that the storage of electricity could help the power grid with bidirectional charging, where cars become a sort of storage for electricity If bidirectional charging becomes more mainstream, drawing power from cars when they’re plugged in but not being used could actually support the power grid.
Questions about environmental impact
Some consumers still just don’t feel that EVs help the environment to enough of a degree to warrant making the switch. 28% of drivers in the Resources for the Future survey said they felt driving EVs would only help the environment a little, or not at all.
Part of this has to do with concerns about where the electricity itself is coming from. It’s true that a big part of the amount of emissions your EV will contribute to the atmosphere during its life cycle has to do with the source of electrification in your area (which shows an even greater need to shift away from fossil fuels and further increase the production of clean energy).
However, on average, EVs have a much smaller carbon footprint than traditional cars. The US Department of Energy estimates that the typical all-electric car in the US produces about 2,800 pounds of carbon dioxide equivalent per year. Meanwhile, a gas car’s emissions stand at about 12,500 pounds of carbon dioxide per year. EVs do make a significant dent in the amount of greenhouse gases produced, full stop.
Why are automakers electrifying their fleets?
Governments are seeing the benefits of electric vehicles, and many are pushing automakers to go electric.
At COP26, a United Nations conference on climate change, nations and automakers signed pledges to transition all new vehicle sales to zero-emissions globally by 2040. A few of the automakers signing the agreement included Ford, General Motors, and Volvo, while the nations and states who signed included Canada, the United Kingdom, the state of California, and New Zealand, among others.
In the United States, President Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act is creating incentives for Americans to buy new and used EVs, and even help manufacturers make the transition to building electric vehicles. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law of 2022 puts $7.5 billion into EV charging infrastructure. An analysis by the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts Amherst estimates that about 9 million jobs will be created by 2032 via all of the investments in this legislation.
What incentives are there for drivers to go full electric?
The US government wants to help pay you to transition into an EV lifestyle. In 2023, tax credits of up to $7,500 will be available, depending on the model of EV you’re buying and where it’s made. To be eligible, the EV must retail below $80,000 for SUVs, and $55,000 for cars. Only Americans earning up to $150,000 per year (or $300,000 jointly) are able to qualify for these credits.
Additionally, states may offer some benefits to switch. States including Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, and New York offer rebates to those buying new electric cars. Local and regional governments and utility companies may also offer incentives to help offset the cost of installing a charger at your home.
Additional benefits include lower upkeep costs. With fewer regular maintenance concerns—goodbye, oil changes!—and regenerative braking, which could reduce the need for brake pad changes, electric vehicles can help you save in the long run.
Of course, if you care about the environment, the incentive to put less carbon dioxide into the environment might be enough for you.
What is the timeline for all cars to be electric?
As we mentioned, major automakers and several large car sales markets committed to phasing out gasoline cars by 2040.
Five major automakers who sell vehicles in the US signed the COP26 pledge, including:
- General Motors
- Jaguar Land Rover
However, the full transition could arrive sooner than 2040. One of the largest markets for cars in the US, California, has plans to ban the sale of new gas-powered cars by 2035.
What will happen to gas-powered cars and gas stations?
To stay profitable, gas stations will have to pivot their sales, expand their options, or close their doors. An analysis based on California’s plan estimates that nearly half of the state’s small gas stations will close by 2035.
But, when one door closes, another (greener one) opens. The University of California Berkeley estimates that transitioning to electric vehicles would support nearly 2 million jobs by 2035.
Protect your EV with Lemonade Car
The decision to switch to an electric vehicle is a big deal, and there’s a lot to consider when you’re shopping around for the right EV to fit your lifestyle. But Lemonade Car can make it easy to make sure you have the right coverage for your new EV—even if it’s just new to you.
We offer coverage for every part of your EV, including for your wall and portable chargers. Find out more about how Lemonade Car can protect your version of the electric future.
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