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Pinpointing the Key Roadblock to Mainstream EV Adoption

Worldwide, there are around 180,000 electric vehicles (EVs) on the streets. Yet the International Energy Agency (IEA) wants 20 million on the road by 2020.

That’s a pretty tall order, since we’d need to see adoption grow 80% a year to meet the IEA’s goal.

The key will be locking on to what’s currently keeping mainstream consumers from buying.

Of course, price is a major roadblock. Take the Chevy Volt, for instance, which runs for $40,000. Despite the cost savings involved with owning an electric vehicle, that’s still a hefty price tag – even when you factor in the $7,500 tax credit.

Chevy is doing its part to solve this issue, though. CEO, Dan Akerson, says GM (GM) wants to lower the cost of the Volt between $7,000 and $10,000.

French auto maker, Renault, is taking a different path. The company thinks that adding flashier features and design elements might get more consumers on board.

The company just unveiled its latest concept car, the Twin’Z. The car has semi-transparent seats that are made of carbon-fiber and covered by a fishnet-style mesh. It also sports blue flooring that looks like you’re at the bottom of the ocean.

Touchscreens allow the driver to control heating, seat and lighting adjustments, navigation and in-car connectivity.

According to Head of Design, Laurens van den Acker, “The most dramatic and the most individual thing about the car is the [LED] lighting that covers the whole roof all the way to the back. You can actually create a mood with the car, from the inside or from the outside.”

But a lower price and unique style might not be all consumers need to get on the EV bandwagon.

Louise Bunce, who advises the British government on electric car use, says reliability is the most likely quality that mainstream buyers are waiting for.

As she says, “From the research that I’ve been involved in of electric vehicle users… I think the mainstream consumer market for electric cars just want something that’s reliably going to get them to their destination.”