Publication Detail

I Am Not an Environmental Wacko! Getting from Early Plug-in Vehicle Owners to Potential Later Buyers


Working Paper

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

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Suggested Citation:
Kurani, Kenneth S., Nicolette Caperello, Jennifer TyreeHageman, Jamie Davies (2014) I Am Not an Environmental Wacko! Getting from Early Plug-in Vehicle Owners to Potential Later Buyers. Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California, Davis, Working Paper UCD-ITS-WP-14-05

Several conceptual frameworks regarding the spread of new ideas and products rely on movement of information from early to potential later actors. In the case of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs), achieving social benefits requires that many more households become PEV owners than have so far. Poor information flow beyond existing PEV owners has previously been noted in discussions with them; missing are reports from both sides of such conversations. Workshops were convened with PEV owners and owners of internal combustion engine vehicles (ICEVs) in three regions throughout California. Workshops allowed participants to create an agenda in which ICEV owners asked questions about PEVs, PEV owners responded to those questions and added more they wanted to talk about. ICEV owners were almost universally surprised to hear PEVs are for sale—thus their questions are basic and they had little to contribute to discussions of future developments. PEV owners construct “accounts”—both in the sense of (generally informal) accounting for the costs of buying a PEV (including private benefits conferred by public policy) and in the sense of giving an account, i.e., telling a story of life with a PEV. Despite the universality (across the three study regions) of many incentives, PEV owners’ accounts show substantial regional variation. The effect on ICEV owners of hearing these accounts was routinely, if not uniformly, to promote a more positive interest in PEVs.