April 6, 2023
Electric vehicles are seen as essential to the decarbonization of transportation. And they have seen immense gains in recent years. According to the International Energy Agency, sales of electric vehicles (EVs) doubled in 2021, and nearly 10% of vehicles sold worldwide were electric.
A new report from IEEE Access reviews more than 100 pieces of research – from academic papers to consumer surveys – to find out what policy makers and car companies can do to accelerate EV adoption.
Here’s what they found:
1. It’s probably no surprise, but the distance that an EV can travel on a full battery has a big impact on EV adoption. It was a barrier to purchase for 33% of German car buyers, and 22% of car buyers in the UK and China.
2. About 60% don’t trust the driving range estimate specified by EV manufacturers.
3. For daily driving, EVs have more than enough range. Research in India, the U.S., and several Scandinavian countries found that the average distance driven each day is less than 31 miles, or 50 km.
4. Batteries make up a significant proportion of the purchase price of a new electric vehicle. A 2020 survey found that 74% of buyers would be more willing to purchase an EV if given the option to buy one without the battery, assuming that it was possible to swap batteries and lease them.
5. Fast charging is essential. Research has found that a big proportion of drivers are willing to spend up to three hours charging a vehicle. But normal charging times for vehicles with a 180-mile driving range can exceed six hours. Fast chargers can cut that time to 30 minutes.
6. There’s a strong preference for charging at home. Peak charging at private charging stations is between 12 a.m. and 3 a.m. But public fast charging stations are busiest between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.
7. The cost of EVs can impact adoption, but consumers are willing to absorb the cost if charging times are sufficiently fast.
8. Consumers are willing to absorb higher costs for a couple of other reasons. Some are swayed by the expected reduction in maintenance costs compared to internal combustion vehicles. There’s also a segment of consumers that will pay more to help pay for the development of new technology.
9. Some research has gone into just how much more consumers are willing to pay for certain features, like extended battery range or faster charging times. U.S. consumers willing to add approximately $113 to the purchase price of a new vehicle for each additional mile of expected range.
“Adoption of EVs will accelerate only through lowering of their purchase price along with increased range and widespread availability of fast charging,” said Bilin Aksun-Guvenc, an IEEE member whose research focuses on automotive technology.
Aksun-Guvenc notes that there are a number of technologies waiting in the wings to help extend the range of EVs, including the eco-approach and eco-departure technologies, which integrate vehicle sensors with traffic control systems to encourage energy-saving driving habits.
“The most prominent way to extend the range of an EV is to reduce its acceleration. Repeated sudden acceleration and deceleration result in the largest changes in battery state of charge,” Aksun-Guvenc said.
This may mean changing the way a vehicle’s onboard computers interpret the pressing of the brake or the gas pedal.
Get involved: The transportation industry is going electric. It’s drawing on a wide range of expertise to do it. To support the transition, IEEE is forming the Transportation Electrification Council to bring together experts and technologists from around the world.