Electric cars are technologically savvier, environmentally cleaner and financially smarter. Yet, most people have still not jumped on the bandwagon, opting for a more problematic, petrol-driven one in its stead.

Breaking down the costs-vs-benefits analysis to a potential buyer will do little to promote an electric car purchase. Most consumers already know the real benefits of owning an electric car. The problem is then, not a lack of knowledge, but a lack of desire. The lack of options and the initially hefty price tag influence the desirability of a worthy, but inaccessible car.

Options will increase and costs will decrease with time. But, many tend to think shorter term because it is less abstract.

Why worry about future problems if there are present problems that need tackling? Compound this thinking with pervasive mental health issues, and it is natural to focus on present happiness. This rationale, however, may also hint at poor planning skills and a type of thinking that favours eating one marshmallow now over two later.

The Marshmallow Test is a famous 1960s experiment led by Stanford psychologist, Mischel, suggesting that children who chose to receive two marshmallows later than eating one immediately were more likely to achieve better SAT scores and body-mass indices. This ability to ‘delay gratification’ seemed to inculcate successes well beyond childhood. Is the lack of interest in electric cars tied to an inability to delay gratification?

Probably not.

Electric cars, much like many issues of the environment, are not yet accessible to the average citizen. Though it is a better choice, an electric car is still very expensive in the short-term, incurring immediate costs that many people can’t afford. A recent revision to the Marshmallow Test concludes that it is the economic background, not the level of self-control, that determines whether a child eats the first marshmallow or not. A child from a poor household won’t often be able to indulge, so when the opportunity to eat a treat comes by, they feel they should take it while they can. Similarly, the cost of an electric is too much of a burden for the low to middle-class and they can’t be expected to adopt something outside their means. Government subsidiaries may help make the cars more affordable, but we need more attractive ways to encourage use.

Technological advancements always start with high costs; the first laptops and mobile phones were ridiculously expensive. Yet, as more people use them, they too became affordable and attainable. It’s a matter of time for the same to happen with electric cars.

Or, you can just walk.


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