Modelling Electric Vehicle Adoption in the UK: a Stated Choice Study

Modelling Electric Vehicle Adoption in the UK: a Stated Choice Study


A Sivakumar, N Daina, J Polak, Imperial College London; S Skippon, Shell; J Stannard, TRL; S Le Vine, Imperial College London, UK


This paper presents a stated choice electric vehicle adoption study with a controlled experiment to capture the impacts of experience on stated choices.


The potential uptake of electric vehicles (EVs) is not yet easy to quantify, as the appeal of EVs will involve the trade-off of a variety of factors. On the one hand, lower running costs, tax incentives on purchase and use, performance benefits such as smooth acceleration and low noise, and symbolic value as signals of pro-environmental orientation may favour uptake. On the other hand, these may be traded off against factors such as high purchase costs, short range, short battery life, downtime while recharging, and uncertainties over resale values.. Social influences on beliefs and attitudes will also play a role. There have been several electric vehicle adoption studies to date, though most of these have been based in the USA. The only UK-based quantitative studies of EV demand that we are aware of are the GfK conjoint analysis study from 2004, and the more recent ETI (Energy Technologies Institute) study from 2011.

The GfK study was based on conjoint analysis and followed the traditional market research approach of presenting the respondent with alternatives that encouraged them to trade off a number of EV attributes (including cost, fuel efficiency, boot capacity etc) against each other. This is a commonly used approach in the field of consumer and marketing research as a means of forecasting the rate and extent of adoption of newly introduced (or yet to be introduced) products. However, the GfK study was only intended as a means of producing quick demand estimates; it was a fairly simple survey and omitted several functional EV attributes, as well as the underlying attitudes and beliefs of the respondents. The ETI study addressed these issues and was designed to capture EV choice behaviour in more detail. It also involved several measures to raise participants’ awareness and understanding of EVs. However, in neither of these studies did participants have direct experience of using EVs. Construal Level Theory suggests that consumers have difficulty relating to unfamiliar products, so that their expressed attitudes and choices are based more on abstract construals, and less on concrete construals of the ways in which the product might integrate with their lifestyles.

As part of a joint research study between the Centre for Transport Studies at Imperial College London, TRL (Transport Research Laboratory) and Shell, we are currently undertaking a survey attempting to qualitatively as well as quantitatively assess the potential demand for Electric Vehicles, with mass-market consumer participants who have experienced using an EV for a 2-day period. The objective of this research is to analyse the impacts of the real, tangible, experience of using an electric vehicle on stated choice behaviour.

A sample of 400 participants have been recruited to participate in this stated choice experiment (SCE), of which 200 will belong to the experimental group (experiencing the use of an EV) and 200 to the control group (experiencing the use of a similar-sized conventional car). A series of pre-experience questionnaires will be administered to both groups, which include attitudinal items, personality and driving style inventories, items about knowledge and experience of EVs, questions of EV purchase intentions and the SCEs. The participants will be provided written information about EVs and their characteristics before answering the pre-experience questionnaires. This will then be followed by a 2 day experience of using the vehicle. The post experience questionnaire administered to both groups, repeats the attitudinal questions and SCEs. The SCEs are designed specifically to understand and analyse respondents’ propensity to buy an EV as a function of various attributes such as brand, type of power-train, electric range, recharging time, capital and running costs. The data collection is scheduled to span February-June 2012.

The paper will present results of the study, which will enable us to better understand the impacts of actual experience, as opposed to written information, on the stated choices and to explore how far direct experience affects the way in which EVs are construed. Discrete choice models of EV demand will be estimated to quantify the impacts of this experience, while the detailed attitudinal questionnaires will enable us to explore the possible causes of these impacts. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study that attempts a controlled experiment to capture the impacts of experience on stated choices.


Association for European Transport