Electric vehicles, lots of them, are coming whether we’re ready or not. The looming Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards and the need for manufacturers to standardize production have made a switch to electric inevitable. But while the E.V. fleet is accelerating rapidly into our future, there are bumps in the road, including, most notably, a lack of ready buyers.
Price is one obstacle to consumer acceptance of E.V.s, but that is likely to become less of a concern as increased production leads to economies of scale and as advancing technology reduces costs. Another obstacle that may not be easily overcome is perceived vehicle safety.
E.V.s have not benefited from good press. In March, a Tesla caught fire and burned for hours after running off a road near Fillmore, Calif. And last year, General Motors had to warn Bolt buyers that they couldn’t park their cars indoors after some vehicles caught fire while charging.
Though these fires generated headlines, E.V. angst appears to be unwarranted. AutoInsuranceEZ studied the frequency of fires — from all causes, including collisions — in automobiles in 2021. It found that hybrid vehicles, which have an internal combustion engine and an electric motor, had the most fires per 100,000 vehicles (3,475), while vehicles with just an internal combustion engine placed second (1,530 per 100,000). Fully electric vehicles had the fewest: 25 per 100,000. These findings were based on data from the National Transportation Safety Board and the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.