Who will adopt electric vehicles? A segmentation approach of UK consumers

Jillian Anable, Stephen Skippon, Geertje Schuitema, Neale Kinnear

Research output: Contribution to conferenceUnpublished paperpeer-review


Climate change programmes around the globe are relying heavily on the electrification of transport, especially private battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids (‘EVs’). These are novel technologies of which mainstream consumers have very little experience and knowledge, so they are psychologically distant from the category. This presents a methodological challenge. Yet, the weight afforded them in policy requires a better understanding of which consumers are most likely to adopt EVs and under what circumstances.
Jansson et al. (2009) concluded that potential consumers will have either a strong pro-environmental orientation or a strong inclination to own this new technology. As these are two distinct characteristics, consumers are likely to have different attitudes to car use, evaluate car attributes differently and attach different (symbolic) meanings to EVs. These, in turn, may translate into different patterns of adoption and use: strong inclinations towards new technology resulting in more car ownership and use (e.g. EV as additional car) and pro-environmental orientations leading to pro-environmental choices (e.g. replace current car with an EV, limit car use).
This paper presents the results of a field study conducted in 2010 in the UK (N=2,729) using a unique two-wave research design. In the first wave, general data was collected about car ownership, travel patterns and various individual characteristics (e.g. openness to technology, environmental attitudes). At the end of the first wave, information about EVs was provided to participants. Two days later, responses were collected on the perceived suitability and relative attractiveness of EVs. The two-wave design was aimed at reducing psychological distance, supporting information transfer into long-term memory, and facilitating non-conscious processing, thus better representing consumer choice processes. Applying cluster analysis to the various attitudinal measures, participants are segmented according to their pro-social and technology-oriented inclinations and some conclusions as to the characteristics of EV consumers are presented.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jun 2011
EventEuropean Council for an Energy Efficient Economy - , France
Duration: 6 Jun 201111 Jun 2011


ConferenceEuropean Council for an Energy Efficient Economy


  • electric vehcles
  • segmentation
  • behavioural theory


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