Mainstream consumers driving plug-in battery-electric and plug-in hybrid electric cars: a qualitative analysis of responses and evaluations

Graham-Rowe, Ella, Gardner, Benjamin, Abraham, Charles, Skippon, Stephen, Dittmar, Helga, Hutchins, Rebecca and Stannard, Jenny (2012) Mainstream consumers driving plug-in battery-electric and plug-in hybrid electric cars: a qualitative analysis of responses and evaluations. Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, 46 (1). pp. 140-153. ISSN 0965-8564

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Abstract

Plug-in electric vehicles can potentially emit substantially lower CO2 emissions than internal combustion engine vehicles, and so have the potential to reduce transport emissions without curtailing personal car use. Assessing the potential uptake of these new categories of vehicles requires an understanding of likely consumer responses. Previous in-depth explorations of appraisals and evaluations of electric vehicles have tended to focus on ‘early adopters’, who may not represent mainstream consumers. This paper reports a qualitative analysis of responses to electric cars, based on semi-structured interviews conducted with 40 UK non-commercial drivers (20 males, 20 females; age 24–70 years) at the end of a seven-day period of using a battery electric car (20 participants) or a plug-in hybrid car (20 participants). Six core categories of response were identified: (1) cost minimisation; (2) vehicle confidence; (3) vehicle adaptation demands; (4) environmental beliefs; (5) impression management; and, underpinning all other categories, (6) the perception of electric cars generally as ‘work in progress’ products. Results highlight potential barriers to the uptake of current-generation (2010) plug-in electric cars by mainstream consumers. These include the prioritization of personal mobility needs over environmental benefits, concerns over the social desirability of electric vehicle use, and the expectation that rapid technological and infrastructural developments will make current models obsolete. Implications for the potential uptake of future electric vehicles are discussed.

Item Type: Article
Depositing User: Ella Graham-Rowe
Date Deposited: 21 Feb 2012 09:58
Last Modified: 06 Feb 2017 10:51
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/37318
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