Sustainable Transportation Energy Pathways (STEPS), Plug-In Hybrid & Electric Vehicle Research Center
Available online at DOI: 10.3141/2287-01
Woodjack, Justin, Dahlia Garas, Andy Lentz, Thomas S. Turrentine, Gil Tal, Michael A. Nicholas (2012) Consumer Perceptions and Use of Driving Distance of Electric Vehicles: Changes over Time Through Lifestyle Learning Process. Transportation Research Record 2287, 1 - 8
Popular media and even researchers commonly assume that ownership of a battery electric vehicle (BEV) provides consumers less performance and mobility than consumers expect. A common claim is that consumers have constant worry about the range of their BEVs, often termed “range anxiety.” BMW converted 450 Mini Coopers to all-electric drive (named the Mini E) and leased them to fleets and 235 private house- holds in the Los Angeles, California, and New York–New Jersey regions from spring 2009 to spring 2010. Through the course of the 1-year lease, University of California, Davis (UCD), researchers conducted multiple online surveys and in-person interviews and administered weeklong driving diaries. This paper explores the reactions of Mini E drivers to the driving distance of the Mini E through the framework of a lifestyle learning process. Over time, Mini E drivers learned how the 104-mi range of the Mini E fit into their lifestyles. Drivers adapted and explored with their Mini E through activities such as altering driving behavior (such as speed and trip routes), optimizing charging opportunities, planning trips, and educating themselves on distances to destinations with the help of online and mobile mapping tools. In the course of the UCD Mini E consumer study, researchers found evidence suggesting that the driving range was not a major concern for these early adopters. Even with no public charging available to their vehicle, 100% of survey respondents stated that BEVs were suitable for daily use. The results of this study will be of interest to policy makers and practitioners interested in expanding the BEV market.