This summary from the NY Times outlining what has to occur for electric cars to be the dominant automobile on the planet was terrific. I wanted to condense it here:
#1: The cost to construct the motors and components must come down further: The prices for the batteries that go in electric cars have fallen by more than 50% since 2011. However, the powertrain for an electric car still costs $16,000 compared to a $6,000 cost in a car with an internal combustion engine (ICE). It could be another 6-7 years before the costs are equivalent.
#2: The elements needed to make batteries need to be in large supply working through an efficient supply chain: The resources used in batteries for electric vehicles include cobalt and lithium, commodities that have little use in conventional cars. There are two potential issues here: first is mining enough supply to match the fast-growing demand, and second is where the resources are located. For instance, most of the world’s cobalt comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo, a historically unstable area.
#3: More charging stations, lots more charging stations. And the charging needs to be faster: The number of charging stations in the US has gone from several hundred in 2010 to 16,000 today. That’s a good start, but it is still far behind the 112,000 gas stations located in the States.
#4: Users must adjust to the differences of driving an electric car: There is no engine sound, or smell of gas or exhaust. They accelerate faster, and hug lower to the ground. It will be cheaper to maintain over time. Some of these are positives, but drivers will still need to adapt.
#5: Car companies are going to need to invest a lot of money upfront: And we don’t know what the auto transportation environment will look like by the time electric and hybrid vehicles become more mainstream. How cars are sold by dealers and how they’re used by consumers is still up for debate.