• Around the world, governments are driving the shift away from fossil-powered cars to electric vehicles.
  • But several issues still pose obstacles to the widespread adoption of EVs.
  • Here’s a guide to those challenges – and how we can solve them.

Late in 2021, Germany announced that sales of new internal combustion engine-driven (ICE) vehicles would end in 2030. The move did not catch the industry by surprise, despite the country having one of the largest ICE fleets in use in the world and being the proud home of traditional brands such as Mercedes-Benz, Audi and Porsche. With more 40 countries pledging to phase out ICE vehicles before 2050, Germany simply joined the international race to cut emissions and electrify transportation.

Globally, electric vehicle (EV) sales grew 80% in 2021 and companies like Toyota and Volkswagen announced $170 billion of investment into electrification. Besides eliminating exhaust emissions and tackling part of the 23% of global CO2 emissions contributed by the transportation sector, EVs also provide key flexibility to the grid as we transition to a greater share of renewable energy (RE) supply. However, despite this global push, EVs only accounted for 7.2% of global car sales in 2021. The electric revolution still has a long way to go.

Challenges to the widespread adoption of EVs

Capital cost has always been a major factor in the EV purchase decision, with 63% of consumers believing that an EV is beyond their budget. However, with the falling cost of batteries and cost parity between EVs and ICE vehicles to be achieved by 2026, focus is shifting towards the challenge of scaling the necessary infrastructure and supply of raw materials to enable the mass adoption of EVs. Here are four of the issues we face:

1. Inadequate charging infrastructure

Compared to traditional petrol stations, charging stations are harder to find, normally limited by investment costs and difficult infrastructure development. The cost of installation – from $2,500 for a slower charger to $35,800 for a fast charger – plus miscellaneous fees, such as permits and regulations, have made charging stations an expensive investment. Furthermore, enabling people to charge where they usually park, at home or at work, has its own challenges, such as dealing with multi-tenant buildings, grid-connection management, and charging slot availability. This results in a smaller network of functional charging stations and has deterred consumers from making the switch to EVs.

2. Risk of grid overload

Power grids are already strained as we deal with a greater RE share and the challenge of more intermittent energy supply. Increased adoption of EVs adds further electricity load, potentially requiring new investment in grid infrastructure to meet this increased demand. Forecasting when and where this power is needed is a further challenge faced by utilities and power generators as they grapple to understand the rapidly growing EV market. However, there is a lower risk of grid overload if EVs were to be charged during off-peak hours – that is, late at night or early in the morning.