Publication Detail

Households' Stories of Their Encounters with a Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle


Journal Article

Sustainable Transportation Energy Pathways (STEPS), Electric Vehicle Research Center

Available online at doi: 10.1177/0013916511402057

Suggested Citation:
Caperello, Nicolette and Kenneth S. Kurani (2011) Households' Stories of Their Encounters with a Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle. Environment and Behavior 44 (3), 1 - 16

One way to progress toward greenhouse gas reductions is for people to drive plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs). Households in this study participated in a 4- to 6-week PHEV driving trial. A narrative of each household’s encounter with the PHEV was constructed by the researchers from multiple in-home interviews, questionnaires completed by each household at the start and end of their 4- to 6-week PHEV demonstration period, and quantitative measures of driving and recharging behavior from the data systems onboard the vehicles. Thematic analysis was used to create themes from the narratives. Bridging from the idiosyncratic experience of each household toward a societal narrative, the authors describe the following themes: confusion, recharging habits and etiquette, changing driving behavior, payback analysis, saving money, expectations, and the future. No theme explicitly identified global warming, indicating a gap between lay and expert understandings of both the technology and motivations. The themes lead to suggestions for education, information, marketing, and direct experience.

Keywords: automobile, identity, narrative, plug-in, hybrid