A late 2013 survey conducted by Autotrader.com found that 66% of respondents who were skeptical about electric vehicles were primarily concerned about the lack of charging stations. Two-thirds also were greatly distressed with the battery range of EVs.
Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA) is addressing these concerns and is leading to shift the cultural perception in favor of EVs by offering the solutions to these perceived problems.
Will I will be stranded on the side of the road?
Autotrader.com's survey also found that nearly 60% of the population will not consider an EV a viable transportation option unless the vehicle is capable of 150-plus miles per charge. Tesla's Model S has double the range of any other commercially available EV and offers three battery options, supplying 208-265 miles per charge.
A survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Transportation concluded that in 2009 the average American vehicle traveled only 54 miles a day. Because EVs are a new phenomenon, consumers fear the possibility of being stranded with a dead battery, and begrudge the fact that the vehicles must be charged often. However, as consumers become more familiar and comfortable with electric vehicles, they should realize that there is little difference between the range of their daily travel and the range capabilities of Tesla's EVs.
Will my EV will take too long to charge?
Currently, people are impatient and do not want to wait long for their vehicles to charge. Recognizing this fact, Tesla leads the market in charging time by optimizing its battery and charging capabilities to allow for 31 miles of range per hour of charging in an owner's home.
Charge Time *
Tesla Model S
Ford Focus EV
Rather than wait for the market, Tesla is installing its Supercharger stations that give a 50% charge in a mere 20 minutes -- enabling over 100 miles of travel. These stations are changing the face of EV charging centers; they can charge 16 times faster than most other charging stations and are spreading across the U.S., Europe, and China.
Will I have to go out of my way to recharge?
Two-thirds of Autotrader.com's survey respondents indicated that the reason they will not purchase EVs is the lack of charging stations. Tesla's goal is to create a network of Superchargers that spans the nation, allowing for free travel from city to city. By the end of 2014, Supercharger locations will make free travel possible for 80% of the U.S., and will cover 98% by the end of 2015.
SolarCity (NASDAQ:SCTY), the largest U.S. solar energy supplier, and Tesla teamed to provide efficient and effective Supercharger stations. SolarCity provides the solar panels for Superchargers and energy storage units that utilize Tesla's technology.
These solar canopies will decrease long-term energy costs for the Superchargers. Because of the partnership, SolarCity can now produce efficient energy storage units with its solar paneling -- in this case, allowing Tesla owners to charge at any time of day or night.
Tesla will also be adding SolarCity's solar canopies to existing Supercharger stations over the next years. As Supercharger growth and expansion continue, SolarCity, too, will be set to reap the rewards.
Working behind the scenes
Tesla is diligently working to make its vehicles the premier EVs on the road. It is actively engaging with consumers and seeking to solve their reservations about electric vehicles in order to catapult its sales in the coming years of EV success; EV sales are expected to grow 60% in 2014 alone.
Tesla plans to take a large slice of that growth by expanding capacity to sell 500,000 vehicles in 2020. To make this goal feasible, Tesla must continue to offer innovative solutions to help shift consumer perceptions of the EV. Thus, the 200-plus mile range per charge of its vehicles, the fast charge time, and the infrastructure of the Supercharger network are crucial to Tesla's long term success.
Now is the time
The next 10 years will be critical for EV manufacturers as they seek to gain customer satisfaction and loyalty. Tesla is actively listening to consumers' concerns and desires and is addressing them well. This attentiveness will help to solidify Tesla's position as the premier manufacturer of EVs for years to come.
Benjamin Marasco has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends BMW, Ford, SolarCity, and Tesla Motors. The Motley Fool owns shares of Ford, SolarCity, and Tesla Motors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
More from The Motley Fool
Tesla's Gigafactory 2 Starts Solar Roof Tile Production
Word is that the Buffalo manufacturing plant began churning out solar panels last year, and roof tiles last month. Next question: Who will install them?
The 3 Best Electric-Vehicle Stories of 2017
The biggest news in a year that was huge for electric-vehicle technology.
Why Shares of Tesla (TSLA) Rose 46% in 2017
Excitement and concerns about the Model 3 were part of the story.