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Transition challenges for alternative fuel vehicle and transportation systems

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  • Jeroen Struben
  • John D Sterman
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    Abstract

    Automakers are now developing alternatives to internal combustion engines (ICE), including hydrogen fuel cells and ICE – electric hybrids. Adoption dynamics for alternative vehicles are complex, owing to the size and importance of the auto industry and vehicle installed base. Diffusion of alternative vehicles is both enabled and constrained by powerful positive feedbacks arising from scale and scope economies, research and development, learning by doing, driver experience, word of mouth, and complementary resources such as fueling infrastructure. We describe a dynamic model of the diffusion of and competition among alternative fuel vehicles, including coevolution of the fleet technology, behavior, and complementary resources. Here we focus on the generation of consumer awareness of alternatives through feedback from consumers’ experience, word of mouth, and marketing, with a reduced-form treatment of network effects and other positive feedbacks (which we treat in other papers). We demonstrate the existence of a critical threshold for sustained adoption of alternative technologies, and show how the threshold depends on economic and behavioral parameters. We show that word of mouth from those not driving an alternative vehicle is important in stimulating diffusion. Expanding the model boundary to include learning, technological spillovers, and spatial coevolution of fueling infrastructure adds additional feedbacks that condition the diffusion of alternative vehicles. Results show scenarios for successful diffusion of alternative vehicles, but also suggest that marketing programs and subsidies for alternatives must remain in place for long periods for diffusion to become self-sustaining.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Pion Ltd, London in its journal Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design.

    Volume (Year): 35 (2008)
    Issue (Month): 6 (November)
    Pages: 1070-1097

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    Handle: RePEc:pio:envirb:v:35:y:2008:i:6:p:1070-1097

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    Web page: http://www.pion.co.uk

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    Cited by:
    1. Sperling, Daniel & Cannon, James S., 2010. "Climate and Transportation Solutions: Findings from the 2009 Asilomar Conference on Transportation and Energy Policy," Institute of Transportation Studies, Working Paper Series qt8wm1z34p, Institute of Transportation Studies, UC Davis.
    2. Petschnig, Martin & Heidenreich, Sven & Spieth, Patrick, 2014. "Innovative alternatives take action – Investigating determinants of alternative fuel vehicle adoption," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 68-83.
    3. Green, Erin H. & Skerlos, Steven J. & Winebrake, James J., 2014. "Increasing electric vehicle policy efficiency and effectiveness by reducing mainstream market bias," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 65(C), pages 562-566.
    4. Malte Schwoon & Floortje Alkemade & Koen Frenken & Marko P. Hekkert, 2008. "A complex systems methodology to transition management," Innovation Studies Utrecht (ISU) working paper series 08-12, Utrecht University, Department of Innovation Studies, revised Apr 2008.
    5. van der Zwaan, Bob & Keppo, Ilkka & Johnsson, Filip, 2013. "How to decarbonize the transport sector?," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 562-573.
    6. Sierzchula, William & Bakker, Sjoerd & Maat, Kees & van Wee, Bert, 2014. "The influence of financial incentives and other socio-economic factors on electric vehicle adoption," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 68(C), pages 183-194.
    7. Köhler, Jonathan & Whitmarsh, Lorraine & Nykvist, Björn & Schilperoord, Michel & Bergman, Noam & Haxeltine, Alex, 2009. "A transitions model for sustainable mobility," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(12), pages 2985-2995, October.
    8. Brathwaite, J. & Horst, S. & Iacobucci, J., 2010. "Maximizing efficiency in the transition to a coal-based economy," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(10), pages 6084-6091, October.
    9. Wiedmann, Klaus-Peter & Hennigs, Nadine & Pankalla, Lars & Kassubek, Martin & Seegebarth, Barbara, 2011. "Adoption barriers and resistance to sustainable solutions in the automotive sector," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 64(11), pages 1201-1206.
    10. Chorus, Caspar G. & Koetse, Mark J. & Hoen, Anco, 2013. "Consumer preferences for alternative fuel vehicles: Comparing a utility maximization and a regret minimization model," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 901-908.

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