What will America’s roads look like in the future with the rapid shift toward electric vehicles? We dive into the details and what that could mean if the market doesn’t keep up with the pace.
There is a movement around the world to end the manufacturing of gas-powered vehicles and to cut down on carbon emissions. Some countries aim for a total end of gas-powered cars by 2050, while America is working toward a 50% decrease in newly-manufactured gas-powered vehicles by 2030. This shift will harm low-income areas, which may never be able to catch up.
A 2021 New York Times article about the great shift towards EV pointed out the parallels between this shift and that of Cuba’s current struggle to find proper vehicles. While Cuba’s streets today are filled with vintage American vehicles because of lingering trade embargos, parts of America could likely experience the same aesthetic.
In this article, we will explore this idea and what this parallelism between Cuba and America could mean for the future of Americans living in rural or urban areas.
Charging station deserts in America
Some people would trade in their gas vehicle for an EV today if it weren’t for what people are calling “charging station desserts,” or large areas in which there are no available charging stations or other means to charge a vehicle.
In an urban setting where residents don’t often have a parking garage or dedicated spot to park their car, this issue is most prevalent. The urban infrastructure does not support, as it stands in 2021, an environment for sustainable vehicle charging stations. Instead, there are stations outside of the city where it would create both an inconvenience or dangerous situation for city dwellers to charge their car.
Range anxiety can get the better of drivers wanting to switch to an EV but are worried about the practicality of charging their vehicle at a location far from their home. Retrieving their vehicle in time “to avoid hogging the charger space,” like Queens resident, Jonathan Spira said in an interview with New York Times is a typical issue city dwellers face.
In Chicago, where charging stations are scattered throughout the city in convenient locations, Audrey Henderson, of Energy News Network, notes that stations can be found primarily in more affluent areas and less frequently found in poorer neighborhoods.
When there is no access to charging stations and range anxiety is a growing concern, car buyers who were on the fence about purchasing an EV may be less likely to choose it.
Without access to sustainable vehicle options in inner cities, we could see a country where affluent areas are driving modern, electric-based vehicles thanks to the infrastructure to support them. Meanwhile, poor or rural areas will still rely on ecologically wasteful, old-fashioned vehicles. These issues could result in the country’s inconsistent or even nonexistent transition to zero emissions.
Lack of parts available for gas-powered vehicles
When the world finally does stop production on gas-powered cars, the parts available to fix and maintain them will quickly become scarce. NPR conducted a series of interviews in Cuba with residents who drove and maintained their vintage vehicles. As a result, residents needed to become their mechanics and because good cars and parts were scarce, prices to maintain and to buy a vehicle were high. A 2005 Honda Civic with 60,000 miles on it, for example, was selling for $65,000. In America, in 2021, this same car will go for between $5,500 and $7,000.
Supply and demand for gas vehicles could see a similar disparity if the country is unable to support the shift to EV across the country — in every area.
What you can do
While the future is ahead of us, you can encourage your friends and family to invest in more sustainable solutions across the country. You can also contact your government representatives to install more charging stations in your community or find out how you can campaign for it.
Webasto and our team of experts can guide you through the process, how to plan and what to expect when you do own your EV. We can answer any of your questions and help you prepare for the next step in clean energy driving.