Why Haven’t We All Switched to Electric Cars Yet?

Last year, EVs comprised just 2% of the 5.3 million cars sold.
Last year, EVs comprised just 2% of the 5.3 million cars sold. Zhang Peng/LightRocket via Getty Images

Our ecosystem is messed up. This is not a partisan issue like some conservative politicians tend to make us believe through their fairy tale conspiracy theories. Climate change is a fact backed up through science by… scientists. You know, scientists—those guys who do “science” for a living through their research.

Clearly, we can see the economic and ecological benefits of an electric vehicle (EV). And it seems we’re very close to getting this whole electric car thing right, aren’t we? In fact, crafty tech innovator, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, just announced the potential of a million-mile electric car battery.

SEE ALSO: Volkswagen’s CEO Has a Plan to Tackle Tesla in Cutthroat EV Race

So, what is the roadblock (get the car pun?) that’s holding us back from truly weaning our society off of gas guzzling cars? Despite facing a climate crisis, many Americans are still committed to their petrol-fueled vehicles that burn oil, spew planet-killing carbon emissions and get horrible gas mileage, while continually forking over cash at the gas pumps.

Unless you’re an oil company executive who profits from the petrol elixir, shouldn’t we all be on the EV bandwagon?

Electric cars are nothing new.

In 1889, William Morrison invented the first successful electric vehicle in the United States. During the Edison-Westinghouse days of the current wars, Americans went electricity crazy. In 1903, Thomas Edison developed nickel-iron batteries for automobiles. He then announced plans to convert four large touring cars into electric vehicles. But in these early days of energy, America’s infrastructure was not in place for electric vehicles. Gas was actually cheaper than electricity.

And eventually big oil companies crushed the development of electric vehicles—which has always been a problem for EVs.

Remember the 2006 documentary, Who Killed the Electric Car? The film chronicled how the electric car of that era was squashed by GM. The company put in great effort to demonstrate to Californians that there was no consumer demand for these vehicles. GM then took back every EV1 the company had produced and had them destroyed. In the final moments of the film, we see electric vehicles being crushed to junk.

But now, we’re talking 2019 electric cars—not some EV from back in the archaic days of the 2000s. Remember, that era when The Sopranos was still on the TV airwaves, and EVs could only travel 90 miles a charge, which would take 24 hours to fully charge on a standard 110-volt outlet.

Back in the 2000s, an EV cross-country trip would’ve been unthinkable or a costly, time–consuming nightmare. EVs were largely for the city commute.

So, what gives now? Innovations continue to evolve and the median electric car in the U.S. is getting cheaper. Yet, last year, EVs comprised just 2% of the 5.3 million cars sold.

First, there needs to be more incentives for drivers to make the switch to electric. You might have heard Bernie Sanders go on about this. According to the Fuse, consumers are holding on to their cars longer than they ever before. It would take 15 years to turn over the current fleet of 263 million vehicles on the road.

Also, there’s a learning curve; obviously EVs function differently than traditional combustion engine cars, and we have to change the way we drive. The fear of running out of a charge plagues people like the fear of running out of gas.

But when touring America in a gas car, you don’t have to worry about finding a gas station or pre-planning where you can stop to fill up. It’s a given that there will be service stations; they’re pretty much everywhere. I’ve done market research on this—and it’s true.

A comprehensive Supercharger network is a priority. Still, the number of public charging stations is growing every day (or at least every-other-day.)  Currently, there are roughly 22,000 Supercharger stations in the U.S. and Canada. Apps, such as ChargePoint and PlugShare, can provide the skinny on charging spots. Things are getting better.

This past month, when CNN hosted a seven-hour climate town hall, all democratic candidates were in agreement on the expedient need for EVs on our roads.

“We have to take combustion engines vehicles off the road as rapidly as we can,” said former Vice President Joe Biden.

And this is coming from a 76-year-old man. Meanwhile, your average passenger car emits around 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year, which is driving global warming and the death of our planet.

Harmon Leon’s new book is ‘Tribespotting: Undercover (Cult)ure Stories.’

Why Haven’t We All Switched to Electric Cars Yet?