Testing Electric Vehicle Demand in `Hybrid Households' Using a Reflexive Survey
The debate over electric vehicles (EVs) pivots largely on issues of market demand: will consumers purchase a vehicle that provides substantially less driving range, yet can be refueled at home, than an otherwise comparable gasoline vehicle? Also, what role do other unique attributes of EVs play in the purchase decision? Most previous studies find that limited driving range is a serious market barrier; many of those same studies ignore or under-value other novel attributes. To prove these future consumer decision processes deeply and robustly, we first devised and conducted detailed, interactive and experiment-oriented interviews. Then, incorporating what we learned, we designed an innovative mail survey and administered it to 454 multi-car households in California. The four-stage mail survey included a video of EV use and recharging and other informational material, completion of a 3-day trip diary and map of activity locations, and vehicle choice experiments. In addition to propulsion systems, respondents made choices of body styles, driving ranges, and other features. We formalized and tested what we call the hybrid household hypothesis: households who choose EVs will be purposefully diversifying their vehicle holdings to achieve the unique advantages of different propulsion systems. The hypothesis is supported, given the assumptions in our experimental design. In fact, a significantly larger number of EVs are chosen than the minimum number that would support our hypothesis. We find that purchases of battery-powered EVs by hybrid households would account for between 7 and 18% of annual light duty vehicle sales in California. EVs sold to fleets and other households would be in addition to those identified by this study.
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