Man leaning against his electric vehicle while it charges

Fun to drive and cheaper to operate, electric vehicles have grown in popularity considerably in recent years.

However, automakers still need to overcome some hurdles before they’re broadly adopted. It’s important to consider these issues before buying an electric vehicle to make sure it is the right choice for you.

If any of these issues seems too daunting at the moment, wait a few years. The electric vehicle market, technology, and infrastructure are maturing and advancing quite quickly.

Electric Vehicle Driving Range

Although the range of most electric vehicle models has improved significantly in just a few short years, a limited driving range does present a challenge to many drivers.

The range on the 2020 Nissan Leaf is 150 miles, and the Tesla Model 3 (extended range) is up to 370 miles. Although this is conducive to in-town driving, it can present challenges on longer drives or in colder weather. A cross-country trip in an electric vehicle would require some careful planning and likely some inconvenient stops. A study by AAA found that vehicle range went down by 41% when the temperature dipped to 20 degrees Fahrenheit and the heat was on.

Thankfully, automakers have responded by adding bigger batteries with greater driving ranges. As lithium-ion battery technology improves, this will become less of an issue for electric vehicle owners soon. In the meantime, electric vehicles aren’t convenient for all drivers. Consider if you can work around the limitations of a limited driving range before purchasing one.

Charging Time

The amount of time it takes to charge a car depends on the battery capacity and the speed of the charger. A standard wall charger can take 8 hours to charge a Tesla Model S, whereas a supercharger would take 1 hour. Many chargers that you will encounter out and about will take at least 2 hours to charge a discharged battery fully.

Many shopping centers and public parking lots have electric vehicle chargers, and you might be able to charge your car conveniently while sticking to your regular schedule. In other instances, you might be killing time in order to get from point A to point B. Charging at home or work is still the most convenient option when possible.

Lack of Charging Infrastructure

This hurdle really varies by location. If you can charge at home and/or work and you don’t travel long distances, you might be all set. Some city or apartment dwellers, unfortunately, aren’t able to charge at home due to a lack of a driveway or garage. Instead, they must rely on public chargers in parking garages and shopping centers — or agreements with friends or neighbors. Even if vehicle chargers are conveniently located, they might be occupied. Tesla drivers have the added advantage of being able to use Tesla Supercharger Stations.

The electric vehicle charging infrastructure varies widely by area, but this is an important consideration before buying an electric vehicle.

charging Tesla at Supercharger Station
Tesla drivers have the advantage of being able to charge their vehicles at Supercharger Stations. Image by Blomst from Pixabay

Limited Vehicle Choices

Looking back, 2019 was a crucial year for the electric vehicle market. Many new models were released, and car shoppers have more models to choose from than ever before. Ford is working on introducing the all-electric F-150 pickup and the Mustang Mach-E, a crossover SUV. General Motors is planning to launch an electric pickup in 2021 as well. Despite significant progress, there are still way fewer electrified models to choose from and even fewer larger vehicles.

Higher Upfront Cost

Many of us associate high price tags with electric vehicles — and that can be an issue for the budget-minded. Although a high-end Tesla costs a pretty penny, many other models are pretty cost-competitive. The Nissan Leaf and Hyundai Ioniq start at around $30,000, but they both have ranges under 200 miles.

The good news is that electric vehicles are coming down in cost when compared to their gas-powered counterparts. Also, tax credits and state incentives can take a chunk out of the total cost.

Difficulty Finding a Mechanic

Although electric cars require less maintenance and fewer repairs, it is still important to find a qualified mechanic in your area. Unfortunately, 97% of mechanics are not qualified to work on electric vehicles. Of the 3% that is, many of them work for dealerships.

Although there are a lot of hybrid vehicles on the road, they require maintenance regimes similar to typical gas-powered vehicles. This means that people who are experienced working on hybrid cars are not necessarily knowledgeable about all-electric models.

Unfortunately, electric vehicle owners have fewer options for qualified mechanics. Thankfully, electric vehicle owners typically visit their mechanics less because their cars require fewer fluids (like transmission fluid and oil) and have fewer moving parts.

This article was originally published on January 17, 2020.

By Sarah Lozanova

Sarah Lozanova is an environmental journalist and copywriter and has worked as a consultant to help large corporations become more sustainable. She is the author of Humane Home: Easy Steps for Sustainable & Green Living, and her renewable energy experience includes residential and commercial solar energy installations. She teaches green business classes to graduate students at Unity College and holds an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio Graduate School.