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Why are we not all wanting to drive an electric vehicle?

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Neil Thorpe


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This paper investigates the attitudes of UK drivers to electric vehicles (EVs). This follows developing designs along with on-going incentives by Government to encourage the take-up of electric vehicles and installation of charging points. Nevertheless, there has been widespread publicity related to negative aspects of electric vehicle ownership and use, for example range anxiety and purchase cost. It is a pertinent time therefore to investigate the public’s attitudes to electric vehicles. An on-line survey was constructed to measure attitudes, personality and driver metrics and 428 usable responses were obtained. A rotated principle components analysis of 52 attitude items yielded five dimensions: concern for emissions; practical issues including range, charging time, luggage; purchase cost; negative issues including aesthetics; and EV benefits such as being quieter and cheaper to run. Attitudes are considered in relation to socio-economic characteristics, experience with technology and personality traits. The results confirmed both age and gender differences in the factors, for example there were less negative concerns about EVs but more concern about emissions with age; women were more concerned about practical issues as well as about environmental emissions. Ownership of more technological items was positively associated with attitudes to EVs, to enjoying driving and to concern about price. The annual mileage was positively related to liking of electric vehicles, but negatively to concern about pollution. The findings show both a concern for reducing emissions on the one hand but real concerns about the practicalities for using EVs for general use on the other. It is recommended that the attitudes, whilst being positive rather than negative, will require EVs to demonstrate longer ranges and easy re-charging options before take-up will follow the attitudes, and that for some drivers aesthetics are sufficiently important that purchase would only be when such vehicles are either indistinguishable from other cars or are somehow ‘cool’. This paper reports the in-depth results from the survey, and makes detailed recommendations to encourage the take-up of electric vehicles in the UK.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Thorpe N, Harvey J

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Unpublished

Conference Name: 47th Annual UTSG Conference

Year of Conference: 2015