How well can early adopters of electric vehicles be identified?
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'. Several studies have tried to determine the potential early adopters of electric vehicles from different angles. However, the number of available studies is limited and little is known about the actual statistical significance of characteristics for this important user group. Here we characterize the potential first users of electric vehicles from an economic perspective and ask which driving profiles make an electric vehicle cost-effective. To this end, we analyze a large database of German driving profiles and find the share of potential first users from different city sizes and statuses of employment. We first find the potential and in a second step study the statistical significance and robustness of the result by (1) performing Chi-square tests of the differences between potential early adopters and other vehicle owners and (2) varying important input parameters of our estimates. We find our characterization of the early adopters to be robust if battery prices and consumption costs are sufficiently favorable for a not too small group of users.