Electric Vehicle Diffusion in the Lisbon Metropolitan Area: Major Constraints and Possible Market Shares in the Medium and Long Term

Electric Vehicle Diffusion in the Lisbon Metropolitan Area: Major Constraints and Possible Market Shares in the Medium and Long Term


F Moura, M Mendes Lopes, P Coimbra e Costa, M Silva, Instituto Superior Tecnico, PT


The paper analyses the economic competitiveness of electric vehicles (EV) and their potential diffusion in the Lisbon Metropolitan Area. We confirm and explain why autonomy, charging availability and time are critical for the success of EV.


Electric vehicles (EVs) are considered to be an important means by which challenges facing the transport system (mainly, energy security, climate change and air pollution) can be overcome, provided that corresponding life-cycle costs do not offset those from current internal combustion engine vehicles (ICEVs). Still, EVs have to solve some crucial infrastructural and technological problems: charging network, autonomy, charging duration and battery reliability, just to mention the most important.

Notwithstanding, the Portuguese government made considerable investments to promote the diffusion of EV: tax reduction for acquisition, VAT reduction in electricity consumption, and investment in a charging network of 1300 normal chargers and 50 fast chargers before 2012, all over the country.

In fact, the diffusion of any new technologies in car fleets can last more than 15 years, before they become dominant, since they depend on the "natural" technological turnover of fleets, i.e. new cars sales and older vehicles retirement. Concomitantly, EV buyers face today major infrastructural and technological constraints, as referred previously. The current paper presents the results obtained from an ongoing project (ELECTRICMOVE) that addresses the diffusion of electric vehicles in the Lisbon Metropolitan Area (LMA) along the following streams of research:
1. Comparative life-cycle cost analysis of the EVs with ICEVs, considering also the potential benefits of the ?vehicle-to-grid? system to return power back to the grid while parking, thus potentially transforming EV in electricity providers.
2. Evaluation of the market potential of EVs in LMA, by identifying the households to whom EV would be a plausible choice when buying a new car, considering their daily patterns of mobility and money / time constraints. We used a screening procedure of the total LMA population (whose characteristics were generated synthetically) by eliminating non-eligible households according to simple non-compensatory rules (rule-based approach).
3. After screening for the potential market of EV consumers, we performed a compensatory evaluation of the remaining alternatives. That is, we analyzed the car consumers? behavior when considering all sorts of cars, including EVs also. We performed a discrete choice model (DCM) based on an internet-based survey that collected stated preferences from 465 valid responses;
4. Finally, we developed a system dynamics model of the car-fleet technological evolution for the LMA, in order to estimate the potential diffusion of EV. This model considers a set of variables, which can be grouped into 5 majors categories: demography, travel demand, energy technology and costs, vehicle technology and costs and car fleet.

We present now some of our main conclusions. Considering the Portuguese energy market structure and our assumptions, the life-cycle costs of EV have a probability of being 40% lower than ICEV, for a 15-years service time that corresponds to a cumulative mileage of 300.000 km. This said, EVs do have an intrinsic potential to become more competitive than conventional ICEVs, not considering the constraints referred previously.

However, these have a huge impact on the suitability of the EV for standard LMA households. We analyzed the potential impact of the following set of criteria: charging availability at home or work, average daily travel distance, activity time (charging time availability), having a car or more, number of monthly long trips (over 160km), car costs impact on the household budget, and payback period after buying the EV (compared to buying an ICEV).

According to our rule-based screening of LMAs households, only 7% of the households would qualify to buy an EV for the forthcoming years, considering government incentives for acquisition and electricity consumption. We concluded also that charging availability is one main constrainer, since 63% of the households don?t have an assigned parking space with possibility to have a plug (unless the public charging network increases dramatically). If this constraint is released, the potential household buyers increase to almost 20%.

From the DCM analysis, we concluded on some interesting behavioural aspects from our interviewees. They were willing to accept a 5 hour charging time of an EV, if its acquisition price decreases 10,000 - when compared to a 30min charging duration and if the Operational Costs (OC) would decrease 1.89/100km. Regarding EV's autonomy, interviewees were willing to pay 230 - for each additional kilometer of autonomy and a 0.04/100km increase of the OC. These results confirm that, although potentially competitive, EV potential buyers value decidedly both charging duration and autonomy.

Finally, our early simulations suggest that, under current technical and economical circumstances, the EV won't have a significant market share (above 5%) before 2050.


Association for European Transport