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TRL discerns EV consumers’ behaviour via uptake trial

Analysis of more than 11,000 journeys and 1,700 charging events will be undertaken. Final results are expected to be published later in 2018.

Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) is leading the UK’s first mainstream consumer uptake trial of electric vehicles with hundreds of mainstream private car owners, to help government and industry understand how to accelerate the uptake of plug-in EVs.

Projects such as The Consumers, Vehicles and Energy Integration (CVEI) project will enable vehicle manufacturers, energy suppliers and the government to understand consumers’ behaviour and attitudes towards plug-in hybrid and EVs, as well as how to create an effective and efficient charging infrastructure.

To predict the likely uptake of plug-in vehicles (PiV) in the UK, it’s important to understand the barriers and motivators that influence consumers’ decisions to purchase them. These include factors such as purchase cost, running costs, all-electric range, availability of public charging points, brand, and personal-situational variables.

Previous consumer research into EVs has been primarily focused on current PiV owners, i.e. ‘Innovators’. Defined as the first 2.5% of the population to adopt a new or innovative technology, these are people who are typically more likely to pay a premium to be amongst the first to have a product.

The rest of the market can be described as the ‘mainstream consumers’. The attitudes and behaviours of innovators cannot be used to accurately predict the adoption of plug-in vehicles in the mass-market, and so there is a gap in the research literature which must be filled to understand adoption by mainstream consumers.

The CVEI project is investigating the challenges and opportunities involved in transitioning to a secure and sustainable low-carbon vehicle fleet. CVEI is filling this gap by conducting the Consumer Uptake Trial and the Consumer Charging Trial.

The Uptake Trial took place between September 2017 and May 2018 with 200 consumers based in the South of England and the Midlands. Consumers were given a car with an internal combustion engine, a plug-in hybrid, and a battery EV to trial before indicating how likely they would be to purchase one.

User surveys and vehicle telematics data are analysed to build a comprehensive understanding of the perceptions, concerns and motivators around vehicle purchase decisions, including relating these to different demographic groups.

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