How does the actual usage of electric vehicles influence consumer acceptance?
Electric vehicles are being intensively discussed as a possible sustainable and energy-efficient means of transport. Throughout Europe, broad programmes have been launched to support electric vehicle research, field trials and market diffusion. However, for a successful diffusion of electric vehicles, their acceptance by consumers is crucial. So far this issue has not been analysed sufficiently involving actual users of recent electric vehicle models. What do electric vehicle users and those intending to use an electric vehicle in the near future really think about electric vehicles? How do these perceptions change if they actually use an electric vehicle in everyday life? In order to provide answers to these questions, a longitudinal set of survey data has been analysed of participants in field trials in the eight pilot regions for electric mobility in Germany. These findings are compared to the survey data of nearly 1,000 German car drivers classified into four groups (current electric vehicle users, non-users with a concrete purchase intention, electric vehicle-interested people and consumers with no interest in electric vehicles). The analyses and the comparison between the two studies indicate that gaining real experience with electric vehicles has a positive influence on some predictors of the acceptance of electric vehicles according to the diffusion of innovation model by Rogers (2003). This indicates the relevance of the visibility and observability of electric vehicles. For example, providing test drive opportunities allows consumers to experience electric vehicles themselves and might help to increase consumer acceptance.