Volkswagen has committed to 50 new electrified vehicles by 2025. The Chevrolet Bolt is the North American Car of the Year for 2017. The most widely-known EV manufacturer, Tesla, has been featured in the news for a few years consecutively because of their EV technology. And while there are amazing things happening in the electric vehicle realm, there’s an obvious problem: EV adoption in the United States.

In America, it’s a sobering statistic. Of 1,000 cars on the road today, just 15 are plug-in electric models, or 0.15 percent. Despite the overwhelming evidence that electric cars are more sustainable and better for the environment than fossil-fueled vehicles, the United States of America is extremely slow to adopt them as mainstream.

Comparatively, 5 percent of all vehicles on the road in Norway are electric cars. Norway’s new cars sales in 2017 were comprised of nearly 40 percent EVs. Even China, where sales numbers are difficult to obtain, show over 2 percent EV market share in 2017. The United States barely breaks one percent of the market share as plug-in models.

The technology is readily available – just ask Elon Musk. The question is this: why is the US trailing in EV sales on a global scale?

Low Fuel Prices

Prices at the pump have been low for approximately three years. In that same time frame, EV technology has come a long way. The Chevrolet Bolt and Tesla Model 3 were released along with several other electrified models. The overlapping time frames have meant Americans’ desire to save on fuel costs aren’t as prevalent.

In other parts of the world, high fuel prices have driven EV sales. For example, a gallon of fuel in Italy on March 19th, 2018 is 7.24. In the United States on the same day, a gallon of gas was $2.84. The disparity in fuel prices makes car buyers take a long, hard look at alternatively-fueled vehicles like electric cars.

Government Influence Has Shifted

The current government has become disinterested in global-scale conservation efforts. Instead of embracing environmentally-conscious energy, there’s a renewed pursuit of ‘clean coal’ power.

The message directly conflicts with that of EVs. Unfortunately, while the rest of the world pursues different ways of fueling houses, cars, and power plants, the United States has taken a step back.

EV Incentives Are Waning

The US car buyer has expected to receive federal income tax incentives up to $7,500 when purchasing an electric vehicle. However, those tax credits will expire within a year once the imposed 200,000-vehicle cap has been hit. That number is fast approaching.

It’s a significant problem with such small-scale adoption of electric cars. Once the federal income tax incentive disappears, so can you expect EV sales to follow suit.

The Love of Combustion Engines

Ford Motor Company, General Motors, and many other carmakers have hung their hat on American car sales for decades. The sound of a throaty V8 is one that car lovers in the US aren’t keen on replacing with silent operation. American motorists have a deep-seated affinity for combustion engines – it’s a culture thing.

To make an indelible mark with electrified vehicles, there must be a renewed effort from the government and carmakers in the United States. Marketing campaigns, government policy, incentives, and cost-effective EV models that embrace the American Way will be necessary to boost EV sales effectively.


  1. Unrau should be assigned to subjects he knws something about. There can be no “overwhelming evidence” that electric cars are better for the environment – electric cars are powered almost entirely by coal and natural gas. And disposing of them amounts to dealing with toxic waste. And U.S. subidies are for the automakers, not electric cars. Nor does a manufacturer’s subsidies disappear after 200,000 units. They instead are reduced, but only after the quarter folowing the quarter when the 200,000 limit is reached and are only reduced by half for six months and then by half again for another six months. The main reason electric cars are more popular in European countries is because those countries are small and an electric can almost always travel on a single charge to get to one’s destination, and back again.

    • There IS overwhelming evidence EVs are better for the environment and getting cleaner all the time. There have been dozens of studies done since 2006 which support the trend. Recently the Union of Concerned Scientists released a report showing EVs have improved and have a smaller environmental footprint overall since their last report a couple of years ago. In 2016 a group of Chinese universities did an exhaustive study of how EVs would impact the environment in China. They found that even when EVs get 100% of their energy from beautiful clean coal, they pollute 12% to 16% less over the life of the vehicle than comparable ICE vehicles. You can easily Google all of this.

      Finally, I’d like to point out that diesel and gasoline, like coal and natural gas, are fossil fuels. Also, coal’s days are numbered. Coal has been declining over the last decade as fuel for power generation. Natural Gas is cleaner and cheaper and requires less environmental mitigation. EV batteries are reused and recycled with a higher percentage of the original materials re-claimed than standard lead-acid car batteries.

      Subsidies ARE a joke and should have never been used for offsetting auto cost. The same money would have been much better invested in charging infrastructure. Infrastructure is the key to vast EV adoption. Not short-term subsidies.

  2. Why? In a word: Ignorance. Surveys show most Americans don’t know EVs exist. Most who are aware of EVs have only heard about Tesla. They have no clue there are other options. To my knowledge, there are no EVs advertised in the US. I have a Nissan Leaf. I have yet to see a Leaf in Nissan’s ‘Line-Up’/’Nissan-Family’ TV ads. If you go to any auto maker’s dealership, the EVs, if they have any at all, are in the back lot. You don’t find EVs in the showroom or out front. The motoring public doesn’t really know how far they actually drive daily. They don’t know how far modern day EVs can actually go. “Low fuel prices” are artificially low and only acceptable because the public has become desensitized to high fuel costs over time. Gasoline isn’t, and will never be as cheap as electricity. I’ve talked with more than a few who are shocked to hear how cheap driving an EV is. Americans believe anything ‘Green’ means less than standard quality. In the case of EVs they think green=slow and we’re all in a hurry after all. The general public has no idea whatsoever how absolutely fun and enjoyable driving an electric car can be.

    On the subject of driving more environmentally friendly vehicles, nobody cares. Really. This is evidenced by car buyers’ complete disregard for higher efficiency, higher mileage internal combustion engine automotive options in favor of bigger, heavier vehicles. Yes, there are a few around who are concerned about choking on our own filth, but for most Americans, the problem either doesn’t exist, or isn’t their problem. Note to auto makers: stop trying to sell ‘Green’/’Environmentally Friendly’ vehicles. You’re just shooting your own marketing efforts in the foot.

    Add to ignorance and apathy we Americans still have a competitive need to out-do each other. If my neighbor has a SUV, I need a bigger SUV. If I need to run out to the hardware store occasionally I need a truck. If my neighbor has a truck, I need a bigger truck. We Americans are the world’s masters at justifying buying stuff we don’t need. Usually with money we don’t have. I have to laugh when I go to the big-box home centers and load up my Leaf. I see a lot of big trucks & SUVs with a couple of boards and odds & ends.

    Finally, I love how the media and the government are so fixated on subsidies. If current subsidies worked, they would have already achieved their goals and been gone. Range anxiety is, and has always been, the number one obstacle for EV adoption. If the government had set charging standards in the beginning (something STILL needing to be done) and subsidized the installation of highly visible charging stations everywhere, there would be far more EVs on the road.

    So, I guess the answer to the original question is ignorance, apathy, pride, and an inability to do basic math.


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