• Consumers, vehicles and energy integration

We’re 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 electric vehicles. 

For many years, the car has been our primary mode of transportation and this is unlikely to change in the future. What is changing is how cars are powered. Projects such as CVEI will enable vehicle manufacturers, energy suppliers and the government to understand consumers’ behaviour and attitudes towards plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles, 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 electric vehicles 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 Consumers, Vehicles and Energy Integration (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 two real-world trials:

·        The Consumer Uptake Trial

·        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 electric vehicle to trial before indicating how likely they would be to purchase one. We are analysing user surveys and vehicle telematics data to build a comprehensive understanding of the perceptions, concerns and motivators around vehicle purchase decisions, including relating these to different demographic groups. 

As the Uptake Trial concludes, the project team will be undertaking analysis of more than 11,000 journeys and 1,700 charging events that have taken place in the trial, with results of this analysis being published later in 2018. Outcomes of this project will inform the transport and energy industry, helping to shape the future of transport and supply of energy. In the meantime, you can read our report on 'What is needed to achieve mass-market adoption of plug-in electric vehicles in the UK?' We will be publishing further reports in late 2018.

View the report

Find out more about the CVEI project

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