Understanding the Impact of Charging Infrastructure on the Consideration to Purchase an Electric Vehicle in California


This research makes explicit and tests an implicit assumption in policies promoting public investment in plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) charging infrastructure: even people who are not already interested in PEVs see public PEV charging. Data from a survey representing all car-owning households in California are combined with per capita counts of public PEV charging locations and PEV registrations to estimate a structural equation model for two central variables: the extent to which participants have already considered acquiring a battery electric vehicle (BEV) or plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV), and whether and how many places people see PEV charging. The model controls for socio-economic and demographic measures as well as participants’ awareness, knowledge, and assessments of PEVs. The model also controls for the known spatial correlation between PEV registrations and public PEV charging locations. The conclusion is there is no evidence of a relationship between public charging location density and participants reporting they see PEV charging locations. Nor is there a relationship between public charging location density and PEV purchase consideration. The evidence indicates there is little reason to assume building more public PEV charging means more people will see that charging or that more people will consider purchasing a PEV. Rather, awareness, knowledge, and positive assessments of PEVs allow people to see PEV charging in their local environment. In short, interest in PEVs is a prerequisite to people seeing PEV charging. Concomitant investments to increase awareness of PEVs and engagement in a transition to them as well as in PEV charging infrastructure may be a more effective way to grow the PEV market

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