Mainstream consumer perceptions and misperceptions of electric-drive vehicles and charging programs in Canada
Consumer demand is an important aspect of a successful transition to low-carbon technology—where consumers must have basic awareness and understanding of a technology in order to purchase and use it. In this study we explore consumer knowledge, confusion and perceptions for two related technology cases: plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) and a program that allows the electric utility to control the timing of PEV charging to support renewable electricity. We focus on “Mainstream” vehicle buyers, who differ from the first PEVs buyers. We conducted semi-structured interviews with 22 new-vehicle buying households in the greater Vancouver area of British Columbia, Canada. Overall, participant awareness was very low for both technologies; most participants were confused about hybrid and plug-in hybrid technology and did not understand the sources of electricity that PEVs might consume. Once the case technologies were explained, most participants expressed a wide range of positive and negative perceptions of both, which we categorize into a framework of perceived functional (e.g. cost and performance), symbolic (e.g. “strangeness” and loss of control), or societal (e.g. pollution reduction) attributes. We conclude with suggestions of how research and policy can consider and further examine the roles of knowledge and perceptions in markets for low-carbon technologies.
Published in: Energy Research & Social Science
Citation: Axsen, J., B. Langman and S. Goldberg (2017). Confusion of Innovations: Mainstream consumer perceptions and misperceptions of electric-drive vehicles and charging programs in Canada, Energy Research & Social Science, 27, 163-173.