Research launched into consumer attitudes and response to plug-in electric vehicles

Research launched into consumer attitudes and response to plug-in electric vehicles
18 March 2010

Further details were announced today of a project – led by Ricardo and involving TRL, Shell, Element Energy and the Universities of Sussex and Aberdeen – which aims to forecast and characterize in detail the future consumer market for plug-in electric vehicles.

The research project will examine consumer attitudes and response to plug-in vehicles such as Ford's Focus EV (pictured)

This initiative is one of the three research projects announced by the UK Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) as a part of its £11 million low carbon vehicle plan to support the roll-out of electric vehicles in the UK market.  The work will involve a detailed analysis of the cost drivers for new powertrain technologies such that a robust evaluation can be made of their present day production costs and how these are expected to evolve in the period to 2050. Through a detailed segmentation of the market a quantitative analysis of expected consumer behaviours when presented with new such technology options for personal transport – particularly those relating to plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles – will then be carried out. The research aims to identify and quantify the key factors that will influence consumer behaviours in this respect, focussing in particular on attitudinal drivers for plug-in vehicles. This approach of theoretical analysis is required due to the lack of significant current product availability in this sector.

Detailed computer models will be constructed based on the findings of the direct research efforts, which will be used to forecast the uptake and use of both future conventional and plug-in vehicle powertrain technologies. These models will include detail on vehicle segmentation and powertrain attributes, consumer market segmentation, mechanisms and behaviours for consumer choice, as well as scenario based representations of the availability of vehicle charging infrastructure. This will allow parametric studies to be carried out which will form key inputs to the two related projects announced in parallel by the ETI, examining respectively the electricity distribution network implications, and the economics and carbon benefits of, the mass roll-out of plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles.

Commenting on the launch of this important research initiative, Prof. Neville Jackson, Ricardo group chief innovation and technology officer and chair of the UK Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership, said: “Plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles may have an important role to play in the reduction of the overall carbon emissions of road transport in the medium to long term. However personal transportation represents a complex system even at an individual vehicle level – from the energy chain that provides the fuel, the production system that delivers the new vehicle to the customer, the utility of the vehicle and how this fulfils consumer expectations and ultimately, the recycling process at the end of its life. As such an extremely wide range of factors must be considered if an effective, appropriate and ultimately successful deployment of plug-in vehicle technology is to be made. Ricardo is extremely pleased therefore to lead this high profile project which aims to address the critical area of consumer behaviour, which will clearly form a crucial part of any successful roll-out of such a fundamentally new low carbon vehicle technology”


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