Electric cars are the hottest thing in the car industry. They are consuming the plans, resources, and time of just about every automotive manufacturer in the world — plus some tech companies like Google who want in on the fun. So why haven’t they truly taken off yet? The technology exists. They’re good for the environment. Some of the newest models actually look pretty cool. However, consumers have been lukewarm on electric vehicles so far.

In 2015, sales of electric cars accounted for only three percent of all vehicle sales in the U.S., according to data from the Alternative Fuels Data Center. Even hybrid gas-electric vehicles have never really taken off as predicted, and their sales have faltered in recent years. So why are people choosing to drive traditional gas guzzling, pollution spewing vehicles when we could all be driving battery powered electric cars? The answers may surprise you.

10. Charging Stations

While car companies have made major strides forward in the development of electric vehicles (EVs), most major cities in the U.S. (and elsewhere) don’t have the infrastructure to support them yet. By that, we mean that there aren’t enough charging stations around where people can boost an EV battery.

While there’s a gas station on just about every corner, charging stations are still few and far between. That means your EV can become stranded if the battery becomes depleted. One of the big hurdles to overcome is installing the infrastructure needed to support all the EVs that are on the roads now, and all the potential EVs of the future. After all, an electric car isn’t much use if there’s nowhere to charge it. This brings us to the next problem…

9. Charging Time

How long does it take to fill your car with gas? A couple minutes? Five, at most? The average time it takes to recharge a fully depleted electric car battery is one-to-three hours. In some instance, it can take six-to-eight hours to fully recharge. So, even if we are able to install charging stations in more places, the length of time it would take to recharge the battery in an electric car is still a major issue. I mean what are you going to do? Have a nap in your back seat while your car powers up at the charging station? “Yeah, that’s okay. I’ll just get home from the grocery store tomorrow. No problem.”

While companies such as Tesla have made major improvements to their batteries, charging then quickly remains a major hurdle. It’s a key reason why consumers are reluctant to embrace electric vehicles. Key will be developing a battery that can be charged quickly – like instantaneously. Tesla is also working on rolling Super Chargers, which can charge batteries 16 times faster. However, they only exist in a small number of locations.

8. Green-ish

Conventional wisdom is that electric cars are “green,” as in good for the environment. But hold on a second. Most electricity grids used to charge EVs are still powered by fossil fuels, such as coal. This means that the more electric car batteries being charged, the more fossil fuels needed to power the grid. This means more coal being shoveled into power plants to generate the needed electricity for these so called “green cars.”

In recent years, many environmental groups and advocates have moved away from fully endorsing electric cars. The lack of endorsement hasn’t gone unnoticed by consumers who can be influenced by these type of environmental stamps of approval. Trading refined oil for electricity powered by coal isn’t exactly a perfect improvement. To be clear though: EVs are better for the environment. But until electricity comes from a renewable, clean source, EVs will still have an impact on fossil fuel use.

7. Range

Another big issue with electric cars is their range. By this, we mean how far an EV can travel on a single battery charge. A lot of advancements in this area have been made in recent years. The technology is always getting better. However, most EVs can travel somewhere in the neighbourhood of 100-to-150 miles on a single battery charge. That might be okay of you live downtown and don’t drive very far, very often.

You won’t be taking the family on a cross country summer road trip in an electric car any time soon, though. Add in the previously mentioned lack of charging stations, as well as the overly long time it take to recharge an electric car battery, and EVs don’t look like a very practical choice. Unless you are only driving to work and back every day, and never out of town, an EV might not be the best choice for you. Most of today’s consumers are constantly on the move.

6. Performance

A big complaint among car reviewers is that electric cars just aren’t much fun to drive. The engine performance is weak and there’s practically no pick-up (or oomph, if you will). You can’t go very fast on a highway, the handling can be hit-and-miss, and the car’s battery is dead before you know it. For these reasons, many professionals in the automotive industry grumble that EVs suffer from a lack of performance.

You just can’t do a lot of the things with an electric car that you can do with a traditional gas fueled car. Let’s face it, most cars are sold (to a large degree) based on their performance. Watch a car commercial and you’ll see pick-up trucks climbing mountains, sports cars taking sharp turns, and SUVs carrying an extended family through a wooded valley and splashing across rivers. The Nissan Leaf doesn’t do any of those things.

Ultra expensive models like the Tesla Model S and the upcoming Porsche Taycan aim to finally provide that adrenaline rush for EV drivers. Unfortunately, their starting prices are in the low six-figures and only get more expensive from there. For the average driver, EVs remain stuck with the “boring” tag.

5. Battery Replacement

Even if you save money on gas by driving an electric car, you’ll eventually need to replace the battery in it. They are not cheap. Currently EV batteries cost anywhere between $500 to more than $1,000 to replace. That’s a lot more than the batteries used in conventional cars. While some governments have tax incentives and rebate programs available to help cover the costs of initially purchasing an EV or replacing the battery, these programs offer token returns at best. They are not generous enough to significantly offset the cost of replacing the battery.

Some EV batteries that are advertised as lasting two-to-three years have been found to only last a single year depending on how frequently the electric car is used. This means consumers could be shelling out big bucks for new batteries sooner, and more often, than expected. Battery technology continues to evolve quickly, but not fast enough for consumers to hop on the EV bandwagon.

4. Extra Costs

Replacing the car battery isn’t the only big additional cost that comes with owning an electric car. Your home garage (or driveway) also needs to be outfitted as a de facto charging station. This means buying and installing all the charging equipment needed, and that can cost as much as $2,500 or more. Plus you need to keep this equipment operational and running as intended. That means regular maintenance and technicians, which all costs money too.

In the end, many consumer advocates question how much money anybody who chooses to buy an EV will really save. What you might save by eliminating gas and oil changes, you will probably spend on battery replacements or charging stations. Most EVs are complicated pieces of technology, meaning any repair needed could hit your wallet hard. Add in that most EVs still cost more than a comparable gas-powered car, and you’re paying just as much — if not more — to ease your conscience by driving Green.

3. Style

Tesla is doing its best to make electric cars more stylish. The company’s Model 3 is a major leap forward for EVs. However, the reality is that many electric cars on the market today look more like the Nissan Leaf and Renault Twizy. Sadly, they are neither stylish or cool. This makes marketing EVs to image conscious consumers difficult – especially when it comes to the younger drivers that marketers and advertisers covet.

Many industry analysts agree that for electric cars to really take hold and become main stream, they will need to become, well… more attractive. Adding some sex appeal to EVs could help these vehicles mightily. Brands like Porsche, Jaguar, and Mercedes are finally getting around to building EVs that look worthy of your hard earned dollars. After all, a lot of people identify themselves by the vehicle they drive. And what does a Renault Twizy say about you?

2. Gas Prices

Consumers just aren’t buying EVs in great numbers on their own. To get there, they will need a push. An increased focus on climate change will help, but most analysts agree that the push will come once gas prices become too high for a sustained period. Unfortunately, this hasn’t happened yet.

While gas prices have climbed (and sometimes spike up and down), they haven’t yet reached a point where consumers find them unsustainable and are willing to make a change. How long it will take for gas prices to get to a tipping point with motorists remains to be seen. Tthe consensus view is that the costs of owning a traditional gas-fueled car will need to be much higher than the costs of owning and operating an EV for consumers to make the switch in sizable numbers.

1. Sticker Price

The bottom line is that the cost of buying an electric car is still too damn high. Tesla changed the EV industry with its Model S, but that model cost $80,000! True, the Tesla Model 3 is going to be cheaper, but it still starts around $35,000. Add in the additional costs to own and keep an electric car charged, and you can see how many people find electric cars unaffordable. Especially when they can get an equivalent sized traditional vehicle for less than $20,000 – and that’s brand new.

The price point of EVs is the single biggest thing holding these vehicles back and preventing them from gaining widespread acceptance. Until the price is adjusted and they become more affordable, consumers aren’t likely to buy these vehicles in droves. Sure, we all like the idea of being environmentally responsible. But at what price? New technology is always super expensive at first, but the EV revolution won’t really begin until the prices drop.


This article was worked on by a variety of people from the Autoversed team, including freelancers, editors, and/or other full-time employees.