What will the electric vehicle market look like in 2030? Mercedes is aspiring to go all-electric. Tesla is aiming to sell 20 million EVs each year. The White House wants 50% of all new car sales to be electric. These goals are lofty, and certainly possible to achieve, but they won’t be reached until car companies and federal institutions address everyone. Electric vehicles have an accessibility problem — and it needs to be fixed.
In 2022, the typical EV buyer is a 40- to 55-year-old male with an annual household income of over $100,000. He is already in a privileged position: only 30% of households make over six figures. Presumably, this buyer is also able-bodied. This demographic alone cannot help the country reach its EV goals. A bigger market is needed.
Affordability is crucial to getting more EVs on the road, but accessibility extends beyond household income. User experience for all drivers, regardless of age, income, or ability, must be considered to bring everyone into the future of car buying and driving.
Creating Space for Electric Cars and Disabled Drivers
Many people dream of Teslas that can safely transport a blind person, a child, or a senior who has lost their ability to drive anywhere they want to go. But in reality, companies like Tesla have dropped the ball when it comes to accessibility. It’s not so much that Tesla is ignoring these populations — they just have a lot of catching up to do. Only when companies offer adaptations like affordable hand controls or a mobility program can they follow through with their vision to transition the world to electric vehicles.
This requires thinking beyond the car itself and consideration of the full user experience. Are electric chargers available at accessible parking spots? Are replacement parts easily available for accessible cars? Will sales representatives understand what a disabled driver means when they ask for power lifts or other accommodations?
These adaptations are available — companies just need to understand what these programs look like and how they operate. Ford has a mobility program that offers financing options and directs users to dealers and modifiers in their area. Hyundai has pioneered adaptations for the hearing-impaired community. Volkswagen has a car that is both affordable and provides enough space for mobility devices. These provisions should not be unique to one or two car brands. All manufacturers prioritzing innovative technology must consider the full range of people who will be driving EVs and self-driving vehicles.
Reaching the Older Demographic
The future of EVs is here. Companies have to consider how they are going to reach the generations who are buying cars now: Baby Boomers and Gen X. Millenials and Gen X make up the majority of buyers of EVs, while Baby Boomers still need to be convinced of the impact these cars are going to make. The needs and buying habits of Baby Boomers must be addressed separately from other demographics.
Empowering sales staff, the people who Baby Boomers trust for information during the purchasing process, is key. Baby Boomers aren’t craving an online-only car-buying experience like millennials. Digital marketing campaigns won’t convince them. Conversations with the representatives who they have been loyal to for years will.
What’s more, Baby Boomers tend to clutch their purse strings tighter, putting them in the same camp as millennials who may not reach that $100,000 annual household income. Initiatives such as price caps and rebates may give Baby Boomers no choice but to opt for an electric vehicle. This is a win-win for all.
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Affordability of Electric Cars
Various factors may turn off Baby Boomers and Gen X from buying an EV. They are concerned about mileage. They feel that the technology in these new models is confusing. But there is one thing that is holding back all generations from buying electric cars — affordability.
The average transaction price for an electric vehicle is $10,000 higher than that of a gas vehicle. That number alone stops people in their tracks when considering an EV. Even if the fuel costs of running an EV are cheaper, is the $56,000 price tag for an electric vehicle at signing really worth it?
Digging deeper, other costs make electric vehicles less accessible. EVs cost an average of $282 more in taxes than gas cars. Insuring an EV is higher than a gas vehicle, partially because these cars cost more, and partially because insurance companies are still coming to understand the safety risks of an EV. And with an increase in demand, the costs of buying and maintaining electric vehicles have increased in the last year.
The exact cost of owning an electric vehicle varies from state to state, but the majority impression among consumers is that they are too expensive. The message that electric cars are less costly to run needs to get out to the consumers in the different regions. And fast. This messaging should be supported by initiatives at federal and state levels that are available to everyone who wants to buy an EV.
The Bottom Line
There is much to be considered when it comes to making electric vehicles accessible for all, but they boil down to one major roadblock: affordability. Until electric cars are made accessible in this way, the vision of an all-electric future will not be realized for anyone.