Publication Detail

Hybrid, Plug-In Hybrid, or Electric - What Do Car Buyers Want?


Journal Article

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

Suggested Citation:
Axsen, Jonn and Kenneth S. Kurani (2013) Hybrid, Plug-In Hybrid, or Electric - What Do Car Buyers Want?. Energy Policy 61, 532 - 543

We use a survey to compare consumers’ stated interest in conventional gasoline (CV), hybrid (HEV), plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and pure electric vehicles (EV) of varying designs and prices. Data are from 508 households representing new vehicle buyers in San Diego County, California in 2011. The mixed-mode survey collected information about access to residential recharge infrastructure, three days of driving patterns, and desired vehicle designs and motivations via design games. Across the higher and lower price scenarios, a majority of consumers designed and selected some form of PHEV for their next new vehicle, smaller numbers designed an HEV or a conventional vehicle, and only a few percent designed an EV. Of those who did not design an EV, the most frequent concerns with EVs were limited range, charger availability, and higher vehicle purchase prices. Positive interest in HEVs, PHEVs and EVs was associated with vehicle images of intelligence, responsibility, and support of the environment and nation (United States). The distribution of vehicle designs suggests that cheaper, smaller battery PHEVs may achieve more short-term market success than larger battery PHEVs or EV. New car buyers’ present interests align with less expensive first steps in a transition to electric-drive vehicles.

Keywords: electric vehicles; consumer behavior; low-carbon technology