Humanity’s actions continue to put the entire planet at risk through the reckless use of its resources. Today, the pursuit of sustainability has found its way into the agendas of most developed societies, and this matter includes a range of important issues. Among them, the continuous spread of the vehicles based on internal combustion engines (ICE) is a pressing concern. With the growing number of cars in use, cities become congested, emitting unprecedented amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. In this regard, the development of cleaner vehicle designs appears to be a natural step of the overall technological progress. Electric cars aim to meet humanity’s needs in terms of transportation while mitigating the industry’s impact on the environment. Nevertheless, even though entire nations plan an imposed transition to electric vehicles, their proliferation in the contemporary world remains sub-optimal. In spite of the ongoing pursuit of sustainability, the vast majority of consumers remain loyal to ICEs, and there are specific causes that are responsible for this effect. This essay explores the lack of relevant information and experience on the level of an average car owner as the primary cause.
Barriers to the Proliferation of Electric Vehicles
The selection of electric and hybrid vehicles remains on a stable increase. For example, the famous Tesla is one of the prominent representatives of the segment. However, most consumers do not appear eager to support this environmental initiative. As a result, their loyalty to internal combustion persists, preventing electric vehicle industry from making a meaningful contribution capable of changing the situation. Based on the experience and available information, it is possible to outline four key factors that cause this effect. They are united by the same overarching theme that reflects the lack of bilateral communication between sustainability initiative leaders and consumers who form the market.
Lack of Experience
First of all, electric vehicles are a novelty that is characteristic of the 21st century. Prior to the current age, the level of attention to environmental issues was considerably lower and the development of such projects was not on the global agenda. Since early 2000s, electric and hybrid vehicles became a new point of major interest for activists, policy-makers, and manufacturers. However, a similar paradigm shift cannot occur naturally within the majority of consumers. An average car user has been surrounded by ICEs since childhood, meaning that they mostly had experience with traditional vehicle designs. At the same time, it is natural for a person to avoid uncertainty and major changes, as dictated by the profound psychological processes. A consumer cannot opt for a new alternative simply because they are told to do so. Consequently, most users are familiar with the functionality, reliability, and other key features of ICEs, but they cannot be certain of electric vehicles. In other words, people do not know whether electric cars can meet their needs with a same level of efficiency. Ultimately, they avoid the uncertainty, as personal interests prevail over abstract discussions.
Questionable Contribution to Sustainability
In fact, more advanced consumers tend to question the very understanding of electric vehicles as sustainable alternatives to ICEs. From the environmental perspective, an emphasis is usually laid on the immediate ecological impact of traditional cars. In simpler terms, an ICE emits harmful substances into the atmosphere when it is operated, whereas the same cannot be said about electric vehicles, in which no combustion is present at all. While the new design is a greener alternative when it comes to the direct use of the vehicle, the overall supply chain raises reasonable concerns. First, electric cars use batteries that are produced with the use of environmentally harmful elements, such as lithium. Thus, manufacturing such vehicles has a strong immediate impact on the planet, which is only mitigated after thousands of miles of use. Second, while electric vehicles do not emit a carbon footprint, they still use electricity, thus requiring power plants. Unless a global shift toward renewable energy occurs, these plants will remain the primary sources of the emissions, prompting people to question the feasibility of an electric vehicle transition.
An average individual tends to be concerned with the way, in which a novelty affects their own life. Spoken differently, car users tend to make decisions in light of their personal interests and needs prior to considering higher, abstract repercussions. If the basic needs are not met, the person will remain unsatisfied with the purchase even if they are aware of its positive effect on the environment. For example, even the most advanced electric cars have serious limits in terms of the maximum travel distance. At present, a full recharge is needed every 100-200 miles, which may be deemed to frequent by people who use their cars regularly. Courier deliveries and similar jobs can hardly be completed with the help of electric vehicles, neither can such cars meet the needs that extend beyond daily commutes. Furthermore, unlike a simple gas refill, charging happens over several hours. With most new users not being accustomed to charge their car overnight, unfortunate situations may occur when the vehicle become inoperable for several hours, disrupting the plans and causing frustration. The combination of such concerns causes consumers to question the usability of electric cars.
When it comes to global innovations, the economic profits also need to be considered. From one perspective, sustainability and environmental concerns may be presented as a matter of humanity’s survival. Without joint efforts of the global community, the Earth may be rendered uninhabitable. On the other hand, car users are aware of these risks, but they are also individuals who are embedded in the economy. Electric cars are generally more expensive than their ICE-based counterparts for a variety of reasons. First of all, there are fewer models and they are newer, leaving buyer without budget options in user car markets. Second, most electric vehicles are technologically advanced and, thus, more expensive to produce. Distant benefits and environmental advantages cannot outweigh the mere lack of available funds at the moment of purchase. As long as the economic aspect of electric car ownership remains questionable, their proliferation is severely impeded.
Overall, the development of the electric car segment aligns with the global pursuit of sustainability. Most advanced societies recognize the importance of addressing environmental concerns through effective policies, including the proliferation of electric vehicles. However, the global community of car owners is yet to recognize this sustainable alternative. Most of their experience revolves around internal combustion-based cars, of which they are certain. Even those who are concerned with humanity’s impact on the environment, reasonably question the significance of reduced operational footprint of electric vehicles in light of their production’s impact. Next, this technology has yet to prove that it is flexible and convenient enough to meet the sophisticated needs of drivers. Finally, the economic aspect of an electric car ownership is also deemed sub-optimal due to their high prices. In total, these causes create an environment, in which the wide proliferation of electric vehicles remains problematic.