As Gas Prices Went Up, So Did Web Searches for Electric Vehicles

Thinking of buying an electric car? You are not alone.

With gas prices soaring and the urgency to move away from burning fossil fuels a series of climate reports, more Americans are showing interest in electric vehicles.

A Google search for electric cars is in full swing, The record was reached last month, On the automotive classified website Cars.com, searches for electric vehicles increased by 43 percent during January-February and a further 57 percent increase from February to March. And automakers are ready with the impetus: electric vehicles were featured in almost all car commercials during the Super Bowl in February.

But putting more electric vehicles and less gas-powered vehicles on the roads in the United States has two major obstacles to the actual shopping journey: the supply of cars and the infrastructure to charge them.

With the United States, like most countries, struggling to find the political will to make the drastic changes needed to limit climate change, there is no question that more people switching to electric vehicles would be a positive step.

Even before gas prices rose, the supply of electric vehicles was strained due to a number of factors. These include supply chain problems, especially the lack of things like semiconductors, which has plagued the entire auto industry. The war in Ukraine has further disrupted production, and long waiting lists for electric vehicles are common.

Shortages are not universal, of course, but spaces where demand is increasing are not necessarily places where supply is maintained. In states such as Arizona and Georgia, demand is currently significantly higher than the supply on Cars.com, according to Jenny Newman, the website’s editor-in-chief. California has both the highest demand and the highest supply.

Although gas prices should “increase interest in EVs, hybrids and overall fuel efficiency because the economics are better than they were (which was already good), consumers are not getting what they want and want,” he said. David Friedman, vice president of advocacy at Consumer Reports and former executive administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said in an email.

Mr Friedman said, referring to policies such as fuel emission standards that encourage automakers to invest in electric vehicles.

Once people start driving electric vehicles, another hurdle becomes apparent: the limitations of public charging infrastructure. More places will be needed to charge more cars, preferably in places close to electric vehicle owners.

Until now, the majority of people who buy electric vehicles have been able to charge at home – for example, homeowners with garages. Experts say it’s a great option for many Americans, but it’s not possible for everyone. And some people who can charge at home also worry about the relative lack of charging stations for their ability to travel long distances if they want to switch to electric cars.

“Right now, almost everyone who buys an electric vehicle has a home and a place to charge it,” said Daniel Sperling, professor and founding director of engineering and environmental policy at the University of California, Davis. Of the University’s Institute of Transportation Studies. These buyers are wealthy and often own multiple cars, meaning they can use an electric vehicle for everyday travel but they also have a gas powered vehicle for long journeys.

For those who do not have multiple cars and live in apartment buildings in densely populated cities where even regular parking is difficult, charging an electric vehicle is not as easy as plugging in a garage outlet and increasing the range between its charges. A more pressing question.

This barrier does not have to be immediate. “In the short term, infrastructure can complete the ramp-up in demand,” said Luke Tonachel, director of clean vehicles and fuel at the Natural Resource Defense Council.

In the long run, however, the International Council on Clean Transportation learned last year that the United States would need to increase the number of public chargers by an average of 25 to 30 percent annually by 2030. The electric vehicle market, “said Dale Hole, a senior council researcher.

Some of this is already happening, Mr. Tonachel said. Utility companies have invested more than $ 3 billion in charging infrastructure, he said, and if approved applications are pending, it will add billions more. The Bilateral Infrastructure Bill passed by Congress last year includes another 5 7.5 billion for charging stations, and more broadly, the Biden administration is spending billions of dollars to promote electric vehicles.

But where those chargers are installed there is a geographical disparity. And the basic problem remains: profit.

Professor Sperling said, “It is very difficult, if not impossible, to make a profit by selling electrons to vehicles.” Local – or by employers who take advantage of it. But “in the future, we will probably need a public charger for every 10 vehicles,” said Professor Sperling. “And it’s very unclear how this will happen.”

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