Publication Detail

Who Is Buying Electric Cars in California? Exploring Household and Vehicle Fleet Characteristics of New Plug-In Vehicle Owners

UCD-ITS-RR-13-02

Research Report

Download PDF

Suggested Citation:
Tal, Gil, Michael A. Nicholas, Justin Woodjack, Daniel Scrivano (2013) Who Is Buying Electric Cars in California? Exploring Household and Vehicle Fleet Characteristics of New Plug-In Vehicle Owners. Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California, Davis, Research Report UCD-ITS-RR-13-02

For many years researchers have been trying to predict who would purchase electric vehicles such as plug-in hybrids (PHEV) or battery electric vehicles (BEV). This study explores the characteristics of 1,200 households who actually purchased a new plug-in vehicle in California during 2011-2012. These households are not part of a small scale demonstration project or a limited study, rather part of the new developing market for plug-in vehicles. Most of the owners purchased the Nissan LEAF, a BEV, while small portion of the sample purchased a Chevrolet Volt, a PHEV, or a Tesla roadster, also a BEV. We use the 2009 National household Travel Survey to compare the new plug-in car buyer’s characteristics to the general population and new car buyers in California. We focus on socio-demographic, vehicle fleet characteristics, regional and location factors, and purchasing motivations factors. The result of this study can be used to improve the modeling process of the potential demand for plug-in vehicles and the derived demand for charging and to help in evaluating the impact of policies to increase the demand for these vehicles.