Who should buy electric vehicles? - The potential early adopter from an economical perspective
Electric vehicles have recently been introduced to market in Europe. Policy makers as well as car manufacturers have great interest to understand the first group of electric vehicle users, the so-called 'early adopters'. Due to the limited range of electric vehicles, they are commonly discussed as an option for drivers in metropolitan areas. However, not much is known characterising this important group of users. Here we characterise the potential first users of electric vehicles from an economic perspective: Taking into account the costs of owning and driving an electric vehicle which driving profiles make an electric vehicle cost-effective? As with many energy efficient technologies electric vehicles are typically more expensive in purchase but cheaper in usage, i.e., owners should drive many vehicle kilometres per year to reach sufficiently low payback times. We analyse a large database of German driving profiles and find the share of potential first users from different city sizes and statuses of employment. Our analysis is explicitly based on the individual driving behaviour and goes beyond simple averages. From this economical perspective we find the potential first users to be mostly full-time working and to live mainly in small to medium sized municipalities. In contrast to common belief, the share of users from major cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants is small. Full-time workers in small to medium sized cities also own most of the vehicles in Germany, yet we demonstrate that their expected share of electric vehicle ownership is significantly higher than their share of vehicle ownership in general. Our results can be applied in policy design and in discussions of potential financial incentives for electric vehicle purchase.