Electric Vehicles (EVs) are a sustainable option for transportation in America, but why are there so few on the highway? How long will it take for them to become prevalent?

Key highlights of the current EV market:

  • America sold 7 million EVs in 2021, but EVs are only 1% of all cars in the U.S.
  • Domestic manufacturers like Chevrolet, Dodge, and Ford have unveiled plans for popular models to turn electric.
  • Buyers are hesitant to buy EVs because of price, charging stations, and driving range.
  • Some experts predict EV sales will outpace gas-powered vehicle sales by 2040.
  • States like California, New York, and Washington have already set deadlines to ban the sale of gas cars by 2035.

Dig deeper → 4 min

The United States is a country dependent on cars. People use their vehicles for commuting to work, school, and cross-country vacations. They’re also integral for shipping supplies across the country so over 300 million people can put food on the table.

Cars are a convenient method of transportation, but global warming has caused drivers to consider electric vehicles (EVs). With that in mind, how far off is the nationwide electrification of U.S. transportation?

How Common Are EVs in the U.S.?

EVs are slowly gaining popularity in the United States. In 2021, EV sales in the U.S. reached nearly 7 million units in 2021. The number increased by over 100% from 2020, but it’s important to note the pandemic significantly affected sales across the board. It does show that EVs are on the rise in the United States.

Nearly 7 million units sold is an impressive feat for EVs, but there’s still a long way to go. There are about 250 million cars on the road, but only 1% are electric. It will be a while before automakers stop selling these gasoline-fueled vehicles and the current cars reach their end of life. The newer automobiles people drive today last a few years longer than previous models.

What Does the Future Hold for EVs?

Nationwide electrification may be a few years or decades away, but there are still bright spots in the future. The American people need time to get used to EVs and see why they’re the choice for sustainability.

Consumers have become more concerned about the environment, considering the effects of global warming are apparent. EVs produce 50% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than gas-powered cars, making them the choice heading forward.

Consumers are one part of the equation. The other part is the manufacturers and their investors. Automakers in the U.S. and worldwide have seen the writing on the wall and are moving toward EVs.

In the summer of 2022, Ford announced a $50 billion investment in EVs. The manufacturer has created electric models like the Mustang Mach-E SUV. It hasn’t switched the Mustang to electric yet, but that day seems inevitable.

Automakers announcing EV plans show how the 2020s will start nationwide electrification. It’ll be a while before EVs become the majority on the road, but the future is coming quickly. Manufacturers have begun to convert their most popular models into EVs.

For example, Chevrolet has announced plans for an electric Corvette to debut in 2024. Corvettes have been around since the 1950s, but Chevy and other manufacturers recognize the need for EVs.

The EV trend has also extended to luxury car brands. The Italian manufacturer Maserati has EV plans with the GranTurismo Folgore. Maserati expects the car to go on the market in 2023. Fellow Italian sports car manufacturer Ferrari has planned for its first EV to hit the road in 2025. Even the most storied cars worldwide are moving to electric sooner than later.

Why Are People Hesitating on EVs?

If EVs were perfect, there would be one in every garage, and nationwide electrification would take over every parking lot and highway in the U.S. However, EVs raise concerns with the average consumer. Some of these current issues include:

  • Price: One reason EVs have had a hard time taking off is the price. Since they went mainstream, EVs have been more expensive. The battery is costly, but they have become cheaper in recent years. Still, with supply chain disruptions, EVs may be above the budget for the average car shopper.
  • Charging stations: Another limiting factor for EV buyers is the charging stations in the U.S. EV owners in densely populated areas like Los Angeles can easily access them, but rural owners are disadvantaged. Also, many stations are constantly out of order. The U.S. Department of Transportation has devoted $5 billion to building new stations and setting standards for program participants.
  • Range: EVs’ range is another reason America hasn’t gotten on board with nationwide electrification. The U.S. is a large country, and people must travel long distances with little time to stop. EVs have increased their range in the past few years, but gas cars remain superior. The average fully charged EV can travel over 200 miles, but gas-powered vehicles can easily surpass 400 miles. Plus, many people are concerned about potential issues with servicing and maintaining their cars.

Will EVs Pass Gas Vehicles in the U.S.?

EVs have a long-term advantage over gas-powered vehicles in the U.S. and worldwide. Consumers like the idea of them, and manufacturers are converting quickly.

Plus, the cars themselves and other renewable energy sources are improving yearly. State and federal governments are implementing timelines to get things done. So, how long will EVs need to surpass gas-powered cars in the U.S.?

The transition will take at least a decade, if not two. The best chance for nationwide electrification will likely come in the 2040s. In a recent interview, Exxon Mobil CEO Darren Woods predicts that by 2040 every new car sold will be an EV. While that may seem bold, his actions line up with legislation.

California set a deadline of 2035 to ban the sale of new gas-powered cars and trucks. New York and 10 other states have followed suit with the 2035 deadline. However, Washington became bolder and set a 2030 deadline. EVs only represent 1% of cars and trucks now, but that will change, especially as the country heads into the late 2030s and 2040s.

Electrification of American Vehicles

American automaking has come a long way since the days of Henry Ford. A century later, cars still run on gasoline, but those days could end in a couple of decades. Manufacturers like Chevrolet, Ford, and Dodge have clarified their intentions with nationwide electrification. The Corvette, Charger, and other popular models are going electric and not turning back. It may take until the 2040s, but change is inevitable.

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