Aerial view highway intersection

How lessons learned from the global race can drive EV adoption

The successful wide-scale adoption and transition to electric vehicles comes down to six critical drivers.

In brief
  • Mainstream EV adoption is accelerating in the US and Canada, but existing pain points and barriers must be overcome to catch up with global progress.
  • More EVs will put greater demand on charging infrastructure and require utilities to form collaborative partnerships, balance load and integrate renewables.
  • By 2035, EVs are estimated to account for 10% of the total electricity demand in the US and Canada, with a projected need for 68.9 million chargers.

As some parts of the world begin to see accelerated mainstream adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) by both consumers and commercial industries, one thing is clear: the lessons learned overseas will be crucial for everyone, from EV and battery manufacturers, to critical infrastructure builders, utilities and, ultimately, consumers. In March, a newly released EY study — in collaboration with European energy industry body Eurelectric — identified six essential drivers for speeding adoption — all of which can form a practical roadmap as the United States, Canada, organizations, states, provinces and other members of the EV ecosystem gear up for change. And that change is coming fast. In the US, 17 states have already adopted all or part of California’s Advanced Clean Cars II regulations, which require that 35% of sales be zero-emission vehicles by 2026, 68% by 2030 and all sales by 2035. As this regulatory shift develops, let’s take a closer look at current EV adoption influencers for the United States and Canada, lessons we can glean from global progress and the fundamental steps to speeding uptake of EVs in these crucial next few years.

3D illustration of electric car

Chapter 1

Chapter 1

The US is approaching an inflection point but still trailing global progress

Any new technology, regardless of the argument for adoption, is typically driven by a surge of early adopters followed by a long and slow climb toward mainstream acceptance. All kinds of macroeconomic factors can speed or derail progress, but despite significant headwinds from geopolitical conflict and supply chain pressures, adoption across Europe and China, for example, has progressed dramatically. In Europe, EV sales jumped from 10% in 2020 to 21% in 2022. In both Europe and mainland China, adoption is, in fact, reaching an inflection point where EVs are entering the mainstream. It took six years for EV sales in Europe to move from 1% to 20% but according to EY analysis, EV sales will top 70% by the end of this decade. This same dynamic is playing out in Canada and the United States, where EV ownership may still technically be in early-adopter status but in a rapidly evolving consumer and manufacturer market. EV sales in both countries are forecast to equal China by 2031, with sales in the US in 2022 exceeding one million vehicles for the first time. Meanwhile, more EVs are arriving in showrooms and sales lots, with 285 new EV models expected in Canada and 300 in the US by 2030.

The next step forward should not be about duplicating other efforts from around the world but rather an intelligent consideration and comprehension of lessons learned.

The EY Mobility Consumer Index survey shows faster progress still among buyers, with a marked jump from 29% of consumers in 2021 saying their next car purchase will be an EV to 48% (US) and 52% (Canada). Reasons cited include better performance than internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles (29% of respondents), high fuel prices, environmental concerns and the continued reduction of EV sticker prices. This is all making adoption more attractive to consumers in a time when currently 22 US states and seven Canadian provinces have EV regulations in place. In the US, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is targeting the electrification of 67% of new passenger vehicles and 25% of heavy goods vehicles by 2032, and, in Canada, many regions have province-level rebates in place for EV purchases.

aerial view of electric train

Chapter 2

Chapter 2

Pain points and barriers to overcome

While all of this is enormously positive, in reality, pain points exist, creating considerable barriers. Amid consumer misperceptions, concerns over EV electricity costs, lack of familiarity with a new consumption currency of kilowatt hours (kWh) and the need for consumer education, the survey also pinpointed considerable anxiety over vehicle charging. Range anxiety for EV batteries is a top concern for potential buyers in both the US and Canada (29%), but there is also considerable worry over inadequate infrastructure and charging capabilities. Twenty-six percent of respondents say the availability of charging stations is a barrier, with 24% adding confusion and concern over the interoperability of different charging technologies and provider stations. In the US, the federal government recognizes this as a barrier to mainstream adoption with the Biden administration’s allocation of $7.5 billion in federal funding to build critical charging infrastructure across the US — an intensive and widespread endeavor that, if not deployed effectively, may not come quite fast enough to sustain consumer interest in EVs and sales potential.

Electric cars charging at electricity filling station in the fast expanding car charging network in the Netherlands

Chapter 3

Chapter 3

The six essentials to accelerate EV adoption in the US and Canada

EY professionals worked with an extensive coalition of energy and manufacturing organizations, supply chain operators and battery manufacturers to survey industry pain points. That effort, combined with feedback from ecosystem leaders, helped identify six essentials necessary to prepare Canada, the US and others for a more effective and efficient transition to electrification. Let’s explore those six essentials.


Globally, EV sales are moving from early adoption models to more than 20% of sales, a critical turning point for societal change. For the United States and Canada to speed further progress, more industry-wide collaboration is critical to continue driving prices down for both manufacturers and consumers. As the industry prepares for the road ahead, a focus on six key essential strategies could be the answer to getting over the finish line.

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