Transportation & MobilityJuly 1, 2024

Four challenges to getting EV drivers on the road

EVs are struggling to gain more traction in the marketplace for multiple reasons, including high initial acquisition costs, limited charging infrastructure and concerns over driving range.
Avatar Tony Velocci

With all of the buzz over the past 10 years about new, innovative and sustainable mobility solutions, it seems like by now we should all be driving advanced, even fully autonomous electric vehicles connected to all sorts of transportation systems and services and we’d be closer than ever to achieving net-zero emission goals.

So, what happened? Why aren’t we closer to achieving this new world of advanced mobility ecosystems? As with many innovative and disruptive technologies, the concepts are there as well as the technology to support it, but the realities of implementation can often become speedbumps along the road to delivery.

Successful, worldwide adoption of EVs will be the foundation of mobility ecosystems. While a future of shared, autonomous and electric vehicles may arrive in the next 20 years, the actual development and implementation will be complex, prone to setbacks, and subject to technological challenges and high consumer expectations.

In the first three months of 2024, electric vehicle sales worldwide market share grew only 3.3% to approximately 270,000 units, far below the 47% growth that fueled record sales and a 7.6% market share last year, according to J.D. Power. The slowdown confirms automakers’ fears that they moved too quickly to pursue EV buyers and need to identify, solve and remove the barriers preventing consumers from embracing the technology.

Here’s a look at four key issues that, when resolved, are likely to help accelerate EV adoption and establish electric vehicles as the bedrock of future mobility ecosystems.


Many of the early adopter EV buyers willing to pay a premium for the early generation of battery-powered vehicles have since been replaced by more discerning customers, who want vehicles with better range, battery life and charging times. And, they want it all at a more affordable price tag.

According to Karl Brauer, an analyst at used-car aggregator, the higher costs associated with repairing EVs stem from insufficient expertise in working on such vehicles and challenges in getting replacement parts. These costs should decline as the market matures, supplies become more readily available and there’s an increase in the number of skilled workers readily available.

Studies do show that maintenance costs are actually lower when compared with traditional gas-powered vehicles. In general, EVs typically cost half as much to maintain and repair as gas-powered cars. And they last longer too. The average lifespan of a gas vehicle is 150,000 miles or eight years, and EVs can last up to 200,000 miles or about 12 years.


Drivers need a dependable, fast, affordable and easily accessible EV charging infrastructure that’s available everywhere, not just in dense metro areas. Charging stations must function like gas stations and enable charging no matter what make and model you drive. Globally, we aren’t even close to delivering the number of charging stations that will be required.

The European Union needs 8.8 million public charging stations in place by 2030, according to an ACEA report. To reach this number, 1.2 million chargers need to be installed per year (more than 22,000 per week) – eight times the latest annual installation rate. To help accelerate adoption, the EU Commission has made €1bn available for recharging and refueling points under the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) program.

In the US, an Edison Electric Institute report estimates that the number of EVs on U.S. roads will increase from 2.4 million at the end of 2021 to 26.4 million in 2030. Based on that forecast, supporting the expected number of EVs on the road by 2030 will require 12.9 million charge ports and approximately 140,000 DC fast charging (DCFC) ports across the U.S. The most recent count of public and private EV charging ports is 161,562, and the estimated current number of DCFC stations at just 6,409.that

The U.S. has made available $46.5 million for projects that grow infrastructure, with 30 projects aimed at developing convenient and efficient EV infrastructure for drivers to deliver the benefits of clean transportation to rural and urban communities.

China’s public charger infrastructure network is the largest in the world, with over 1 million chargers—51% of the global total. But they still have a lot of work to do. Some initiatives that may be considered include developing localized charger deployment plans based on charging needs assessments and targeting investments in low-coverage areas

Limited driving range and poor battery performance 

When drivers have a long trip planned or frequently drive long distances, the last thing they want to worry about is whether or not their EV is consistently reliable enough to make it all the way to their destination without maintenance issues.

Currently, EV driving ranges often fall short of customer expectations and OEMs’ widely advertised claims compared to actual driving experience. A second factor is poor reliability due to charging and battery issues, according to a Consumer Report’s 2023 Annual Auto Reliability survey. On average, EVs have experienced 79% more problems than gasoline-powered vehicles, while plug-in hybrids had 146% more problems.

Globally, China plans to invest about US$845 million to develop next-generation battery technology for use in EVs

A similar size investment will be required in Europe, according to the most recent report published by the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA).

Skills gap for EV workers

There aren’t enough workers that have the right skills in place to fully support our transition to EVs. The most critical skills include designing and manufacturing of vehicles, EV battery design and production and workers skilled in the development and maintenance of charging stations and networks. 

Even nations like Sweden, the UK, and Germany where there is broad public acceptance of EV technology are being challenged by a skilled worker shortage because the industry is simply moving faster than the number of job skills development programs currently in place to support it.

A global shortage of 4.3 million workers has been predicted to potentially cost the industry US$262.7billion. In 2022, the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) estimated the continent would face a gap of 700,000 skilled workers by 2030. It has urged the European Commission to develop a dedicated upskilling agenda for this sector that aligns with other initiatives such as the Pact for Skills and Net Zero Academies.  

Reasons for optimism

Long term, EV manufacturers are confident sales will regain momentum as lower-priced EV models are introduced in greater numbers. They expect the growing availability of public charging stations to play a key role.

“The infrastructure has to catch up with the transition, which also will bring prices down,” says Lynne  McChristian, director of Risk Management and Insurance Research at the University of Illinois.

Meanwhile, some Chinese automakers are more focused on building lower-priced EVs as part of their strategy to challenge rivals around the world and rapidly build market share. This will cause an increase in competition as manufacturers worldwide are taking notice, especially in the European and US markets. This competition leads to shorter development pipelines and more affordable EVs in the marketplace.

Tackling all of these issues will be a herculean task involving technological and business risks. There is no question, however, that the transition will be successful because the tools already exist to get us there, including solutions such as the digital twin that resides on the Dassault Systèmes 3DEXPERIENCE platform.

The digital twin enables the simulation and optimization of every aspect of a product before an engineering team builds a physical prototype. Used in conjunction with modeling and simulation, the digital twin enables engineers to analyze and explore all parameters of a proposed EV, including battery design, the ability to test what-if modifications and even identify potential problems early in the design process—saving time and money and helping OEMs accelerate innovation.

Read more about mobility ecosystems: What will you be driving in 20 years?

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