Publication Detail

Brief: EV Explorer: Educating and Persuading Consumers with an OnlineVehicle Energy Cost Calculator



Electric Vehicle Research Center

Suggested Citation:
Sanguinetti, Angela, Kiernan Salmon, Michael A. Nicholas, Gil Tal, Matthew Favetti (2019) Brief: EV Explorer: Educating and Persuading Consumers with an OnlineVehicle Energy Cost Calculator. Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California, Davis, Brief UCD-ITS-RR-19-56

Vehicle electrification is an important strategy in moving toward a more sustainable transportation future. Replacing gasoline with electricity to power vehicles enables reduced dependence on fossil fuels and can dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions when clean energy sources are used to produce electricity. Barriers to consumer adoption of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) include relatively higher purchase prices and limitations in vehicle range and charging infrastructure. Much research has focused on these barriers. There has been relatively less focus on how to convey the benefits of PEVs to prospective buyers. Reduced energy costs can be a significant benefit for consumers who adopt PEVs. However, the complexity of comparing gasoline and electricity prices makes it difficult for consumers to quantify this benefit. Online vehicle energy cost calculators are one strategy to help consumers calculate potential savings and perhaps persuade them to adopt PEVs. For example, UC Davis ITS researchers developed an online tool called EV Explorer that enables users to compare personalized estimates of annual energy costs for multiple vehicles. In this research, UC Davis Consumer Energy Interfaces Lab evaluated EV Explorer through an online experiment. The study assessed 108 participants’ perceptions—before and after using the tool—of their current energy costs, potential savings with electric vehicles, attitude toward vehicle charging, and intention to buy or lease an electric vehicle in the future. This study is the first to examine the effectiveness of an online vehicle energy cost calculator in promoting PEV adoption.

Key words: Eco-feedback, Electric vehicles, Vehicle cost calculator