The odds are good that someday, fully electric vehicles will share the roads and driveways of millions of motorists in the United States.
But that day is still in the distant future for Americans.
Take California, for example. It pioneered the electric car, and pioneered another, zero-emission car, the hybrid vehicle. But in 2018, there are just 249 electric vehicles per 100,000 California residents. No other state in the nation even comes close to that.
California’s ignorance of its own history explains that in 2018, there are only 684 electric vehicles per 100,000 people in the other 29 states in the U.S. All but Alaska have far more electric vehicles per 100,000 people.
State-by-state, it’s the same story. And where the United States has been slow to adopt new technologies, foreign competitors have been among the first to capitalize. Today, there are four fully electric vehicle automakers that offer a wide range of models, from sedans to trucks, sport utility vehicles and crossovers. (Did I mention that Ford has introduced the production version of the vehicle that it said would be its worst-ever flop? )
When it comes to electric vehicles, the United States lags behind its Asian and European competitors.
The head of Ford’s electric vehicle development, Raj Nair, put it bluntly. “Most of our friends and neighbors are miles ahead of us,” he said.
The flip side of the situation is that electric vehicles are a huge market opportunity, and it’s very good for the United States to have other countries to follow and leapfrog when needed.
In fact, one of the key reasons that Toyota is investing more than $5 billion in an electric vehicle plant in Alabama, and that GM will invest $4.5 billion in a new plant in Michigan, is that U.S. consumers prefer production vehicles to basic transmissions and motors.
What about U.S. government involvement in electric vehicle charging stations? How has this played out? And what about the usage of such services?
Electric vehicles are far from being a a panacea. With nearly 120 million new vehicles sold in the United States every year, there are still cars on the road that use conventional, internal combustion engines. Even so, most Americans who drive Teslas already know that they are environmentally friendly. A recent Gallup poll found that nearly 8 in 10 Americans say they would consider buying an electric vehicle if the car cost less than $30,000.
So when it comes to sales of electric vehicles, the country has a long way to go before we reach where other countries already are. But at this pace, that day will soon arrive. And that day will be one that it’s hard to ignore.