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

Research Team: Ken Kurani (lead), Kelly Hoogland, Scott Hardman, Debapriya Chakraborty, and Adam Davis

UC Campus(es): UC Davis

Problem Statement: A lack of pervasive public charging is claimed to be one of the primary barriers to faster and more widespread growth of plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) markets. Flowing from such claims is a belief that investing in more public PEV charging will spur PEV demand. Without contesting whether more PEV charging is required, this research posits there is a necessary—and heretofore missing—link between increasing public PEV charging infrastructure and increasing PEV sales: people who don’t already drive PEVs must see PEV charging for it to affect their willingness to buy and drive PEVs. For the claim that increased public charging directly leads to higher PEV sales to be true, it must first be demonstrated that the density of charging infrastructure is related to whether consumers literally see PEV charging locations and that seeing more charging locations leads more people to consider purchasing or leasing PEVs.

Project Description: The researchers investigate two central hypotheses. First, is the density of public PEV charging locations associated with whether people report seeing public PEV charging, i.e., do more PEV chargers mean more people see PEV charging? Second, are reported sightings of public PEV charging infrastructure associated with PEV purchase consideration? To test these hypotheses, the researchers specify a structural equation model to control for differences in PEV sales and PEV charging infrastructure that are exogenous to the study participants and their households. Participants are described in the model by socio-economic, demographic, and contextual measures of them, their residences, vehicles, and daily travel. Given all these, participants’ PEV awareness, knowledge, and assessments are used to estimate the extent to which they have already considered acquiring a BEV and a PHEV.

Status: Completed

Budget: $79,847

Project Partner(s): California Air Resources Board and California Energy Commission

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