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Who will buy electric vehicles? Identifying early adopters in Germany

: Plötz, Patrick; Schneider, Uta; Globisch, Joachim; Dütschke, Elisabeth


Transportation research. Part A, Policy and practice 67 (2014), pp.96-109
ISSN: 0965-8564
ISSN: 0191-2607
Journal Article
Fraunhofer ISI ()
electric vehicles; early adopter; market diffusion; consumer behaviour

Electric vehicles (EVs) have noteworthy potential to reduce global and local emissions and are expected to become a relevant future market for vehicle sales. Both policy makers and car manufacturers have an interest to understand the first large EV user group, frequently referred to as 'early adopters'. However, there are only a few empirical results available for this important group. In this paper, we analyse and discuss several empirical data sets from Germany, characterising this user group from both a user and a product perspective, i.e. who is willing to buy an EV and who should buy one. Our results show that the most likely group of private EV buyers in Germany are middle-aged men with technical professions living in rural or suburban multi-person households. They own a large share of vehicles in general, are more likely to profit from the economical benefits of these vehicles due to their annual vehicle kilometres travelled and the share of inner-city driving. They state a higher willingness to buy electric vehicles than other potential adopter groups and their higher socio-economic status allows them to purchase EVs. In contrast to this, inhabitants of major cities are less likely to buy EVs since they form a small group of car owners in general, their mileage is too low for EVs to pay off economically and they state lower interest and lower willingness to pay for EVs than other groups. Our results indicate that transport policy promoting EVs should focus on middle-aged men with families from rural and suburban cities as first private EV buyers.