Publication Detail

Investigating the Buyers of Electric Vehicles in California: Are We Moving Beyond Early Adopters?



Plug-In Hybrid & Electric Vehicle Research Center

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Suggested Citation:
Lee, J.H., Scott Hardman, Gil Tal (2019) Investigating the Buyers of Electric Vehicles in California: Are We Moving Beyond Early Adopters?. Transportation Research Board 98th Annual Meeting

This paper investigated multi-year changes of plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) buyers in California. The socio-economic profile of 11,559 PEV owners were used in a latent class cluster analysis. This revealed four heterogeneous groups of PEV buyers: 49% are High income families, 26% Middle income old families, 20% Middle income young families, and about 5 % are Lower income renters. With multi-year analysis (2012-2017) the authors found a gradually decreasing proportion of High income families and increasing proportions of Middle income young families and, more recently, Lower income renters. Bass diffusion models were used to investigate how the proportion of first time PEV buyers by socio-ecnomic cluster may change up to 2030. The models are traditional diffusion models in that they estimate the first time adoption of PEVs, not the size of the market. Based on this analysis High income families may not be the majority of first time PEV adopters due to there being limited number of consumers with their profile in California. However, the three remaining clusters have the potential to become larger groups of PEV adopters and may be where the majority of new PEV buyers emerge. The results of this paper will helpful for policymakers working on the market introduction of PEVs and may be able to inform incentive programs and infrastructure development.

Key words: Automobile ownership, cluster analysis, consumer behavior, electric vehicles, market assessment, plug-in hybrid vehicles, policy analysis, socioeconomic factors