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Consumer Learning and Hybrid Vehicle Adoption

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  • Heutel, Garth
  • Muehlegger, Erich J.

Abstract

We study the diffusion of hybrid vehicles among consumers. Using data on sales of 11 different models over seven years, we identify the effect of the penetration rate – total cumulative hybrid sales per capita – on new hybrid purchases. The penetration rate significantly affects new purchases, and the effect differs by hybrid model. In particular, we find a positive diffusion effect from the Toyota Prius and a negative diffusion effect from the Honda Insight, with elasticities of 0.23 to 0.85 for the Prius and –0.08 to –0.32 for the Insight. This finding is consistent with our model of model–specific learning along with anecdotal evidence that early Insight models were perceived to be of lower quality than Prius models. Higher Insight penetration rates gave a negative signal about hybrid quality and inhibited rather than promoted hybrid adoption. The findings are relevant for policy designed to promote new technologies.

Suggested Citation

  • Heutel, Garth & Muehlegger, Erich J., 2010. "Consumer Learning and Hybrid Vehicle Adoption," Scholarly Articles 4448996, Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
  • Handle: RePEc:hrv:hksfac:4448996
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    5. Yuanjian Zhang & Liang Chu & Zicheng Fu & Nan Xu & Chong Guo & Yukuan Li & Zhouhuan Chen & Hanwen Sun & Qin Bai & Yang Ou, 2017. "An Economical Route Planning Method for Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle in Real World," Energies, MDPI, vol. 10(11), pages 1-23, November.
    6. Pettifor, H. & Wilson, C. & Axsen, J. & Abrahamse, W. & Anable, J., 2017. "Social influence in the global diffusion of alternative fuel vehicles – A meta-analysis," Journal of Transport Geography, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 247-261.
    7. DeShazo, J.R. & Sheldon, Tamara L. & Carson, Richard T., 2017. "Designing policy incentives for cleaner technologies: Lessons from California's plug-in electric vehicle rebate program," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 84(C), pages 18-43.
    8. Delgado, Michael S. & Harriger, Jessica L. & Khanna, Neha, 2015. "The value of environmental status signaling," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 111(C), pages 1-11.
    9. Xing, Jianwei & Leard, Benjamin & Li, Shanjun, 2021. "What does an electric vehicle replace?," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 107(C).
    10. Todd D. Gerarden & Richard G. Newell & Robert N. Stavins & Robert C. Stowe, 2015. "An Assessment of the Energy-Efficiency Gap and Its Implications for Climate Change Policy," Working Papers 2015.28, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
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    13. Sexton, Steven E. & Sexton, Alison L., 2014. "Conspicuous conservation: The Prius halo and willingness to pay for environmental bona fides," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 67(3), pages 303-317.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • Q55 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Technological Innovation

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