Understanding the resistance to electric vehicles

Why some Americans are resisting the shift to electric vehicles

The modern automobile industry is undergoing profound transformations due to the fast expansion of technological innovations and more stringent environmental regulations. Electric automobiles are commonly seen as the future of environmentally-friendly transportation due to the growing concerns over the impact ICE vehicles have on the climate..

Compared to internal combustion engine (ICE)-powered vehicles, battery electric vehicles (BEVs) have no exhaust emissions, lower fueling and maintenance costs, and are much quieter.

Despite this, it seems that not everyone likes EVs. Even with all the advantages, some individuals are having a hard time intellectually and emotionally adapting to the major changeover to electric automobiles. And it seems to be more of an issue in the US compared to other nations.

According to an EY Global survey of 13,000 people in 18 countries, the most dedicated buyers of electric vehicles came from Italy (73 percent), China (69 percent), and South Korea (63 percent). At the same time, only 29 percent of Americans are committed to purchasing EVs.

Why is it so challenging for people to switch from using oil-powered vehicles to ones that use electricity?

Resisting the changes in the automotive world: range anxiety

The widespread adoption of electric cars faces significant challenges because consumers are concerned about a variety of battery-related difficulties, such as long charging times, restricted driving ranges, lack of available charging stations, and expensive initial costs.

For instance, the term “range anxiety” is used to describe a concern over how far a battery-powered electric car can travel on a single charge.

Concern over running out of power during a trip is at the center of range anxiety. According the survey conducted by EY, range anxiety has exceeded initial purchase price concerns to become the second most important barrier to adopting electric vehicles.

Charging on the go, and fast charging infrastructure for long-distance travel, seem to be the greatest concerns. Americans drive 37 miles a day on average.

However, it seems that the resistance to the transition to electricity goes beyond range anxiety. So, the question is, have gasoline-powered vehicles become inextricably linked to our national identity?

What will other people think?

Automobiles are the ultimate symbol of social status. Not only do we purchase them to satisfy our requirements for mobility, but we also use vehicles to communicate our socioeconomic status, style, gender-related attitudes, and independence. 

Therefore, there is a possibility that some people will have anxiety over how others will perceive that they are driving a battery-powered car that does not make any noise.

In addition, every change makes us vulnerable and forces us to let go of old routines, preferences, and ways of behaving in our daily lives. Changes are a constant reminder of the passage of time and the transient nature of our existence. Hence, some people may resist them in an attempt to stay in the security and comfort of the familiar.

Resistance to transition and change

The general adoption of new technologies might cause stress for some individuals.

The switch to electric vehicles undoubtedly requires some changes in our habits and behavioral patterns. And for some people, every transition in life is stressful and uncomfortable as it disrupts their sense of self and security.

Change is a part of life that no one can avoid. However, the fact that we are forced to let go of the familiar in order to face the unknown contributes significantly to the difficulty in adjusting to life transitions.

And because of the rapid changes brought on by current technology, people are experiencing anxiety that is widely referred to as “technostress” or an “inability to cope with new computer technologies.”

For instance, smartphones have quickly become an inseparable part of our day-to-day lives, giving us access to any information with the swipe of a screen.

But while technological breakthroughs offer practically unlimited benefits, they come with a price.

Constant connectivity is linked to adverse effects on mental health, such as FOMO (fear of missing out), social comparison and low self-esteem, being constantly distracted, and having trouble sleeping.

In addition, according to research, people who are forced to spend time away from their smartphones report experiencing high levels of stress and worry. Many people find becoming overly dependent on their smartphones concerning.

Some individuals, particularly those who belong to a generation that can still remember what life was like before the rise of technology, may try to prevent these unfavorable outcomes by altogether avoiding using smartphones and other modern technology.

Electric vehicle adoption barriers in the US:


Even though electric vehicles are widely regarded as the method of transportation that would most significantly contribute to the preservation of the environment in the following decades, many people who consider switching to EVs are skeptical.

To transition to electric vehicles (EVs), we must give up the way of life that we are accustomed to and are comfortable with, just as we have with each significant technical innovation that has taken place in recent decades. And these advancements have occurred rapidly, often giving us little time to adapt.

Therefore, like any other significant shift in life, the major transition to electric vehicles can generate insecurity, discomfort, and anxiety in some people.

On the other hand, it seems that electric automobiles will be the norm in the not-too-distant future. And hopefully, EV-related difficulties such as expensive upfront costs, battery-related issues, and a lack of available charging stations will be overcome with time, easing anxiety and stress for people interested in purchasing electric vehicles.


Natasha is a freelance writer and psychologist with more than eighteen years of expertise in mental health, teaching, and counseling. 


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