America’s ‘in the slow lane’ on EV adoption because it has a culture problem, study says

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Blame it on the culture.

That’s one takeaway from a new report by automotive research firm JATO Dynamics investigating what’s keeping US EV adoption “in the slow lane.”

The report explains why US sales of battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) have lagged behind China and Europe. China accounts for more than half of global BEV demand, while Europe accounts for 22% and the US just 12%.

Researchers homed in on Americans’ affinity for gas-guzzling SUVs and trucks.

“More so than China and Europe, the US faces a specific challenge in overcoming a culture of ICE dependence, driven largely by relatively low fuel prices and the preference among consumers for large vehicles,” per JATO’s report. “Due to higher BEV retail prices and the comparatively low cost of running an ICE vehicle in the US, there is currently no strong financial incentive to encourage consumers to make the switch to electric.”

The report also points to a lack of reliable charging options. In 2022, nearly 90% of global growth in fast chargers was in China. Europe’s addition of fast chargers grew 55% YoY in 2022. In the US, fast charger growth increased 9% in 2022—the lowest rate “among other major markets.”

Researchers acknowledged that charging infrastructure deployment is slated to speed up thanks to an influx of federal investments, but found that initiatives like the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure program are “not currently sufficient to satisfy the explosion in demand expected over the coming years.”

A few other culprits: The US doesn’t offer many affordable EVs; many US automakers are struggling to scale up BEV production as they incur big losses in their electric businesses; and researchers suggested that aspects of the Inflation Reduction Act may be “inadvertently making it more difficult for manufacturers…to expand domestic production due to supply chain constraints.”

Separately, EV charging company FLO shared insights into consumers’ charging habits based on surveys of nearly 40,000 EVs drivers in the US and Canada.

Some highlights:

  • 60% rely on fast chargers when they’re on “extended trips,” suggesting that fast charging is “needed for most EV drivers.”
  • More than half reported using on-site amenities like restaurants and shops when they’re charging.
  • Nearly 30% don’t have a charger at home.

The data “demonstrates the need for more robust charging solutions across North America, enabling drivers to plug in wherever they are—at work, home, or on the go,” FLO CEO Louis Tremblay said in a statement.

This article initially appeared in Tech Brew, a branch of Morning Brew.

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