Electric vehicle adoption: can short experiences lead to big change?

Roberson, Laura A. & Helveston, John P. (2020) “Electric vehicle adoption: can short experiences lead to big change?” Environmental Research Letters. 15(0940c3). DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/aba715

View PDF Code & Data Scholar


Plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) offer a promising pathway to decarbonizing the personal transportation sector, but PEV sales remains low. Prior research has found that direct experience with PEVs increases consumers’ stated purchase consideration, but these studies have used relatively long exposure times (days to months) with a PEV. To assess the effect of shorter exposure times (e.g. minutes) on stated purchase consideration, we conducted an experiment at the 2019 Washington D.C. Auto Show. Participants (n = 6518) were asked to rate their level of consideration to adopt a PEV before and after riding in one of four different PEVs for just 3–5 min. We find that the experience of riding in a PEV on average had a significant, positive effect on participants’ consideration ratings. We also find that the vast majority of respondents were unable to correctly answer basic knowledge questions about refueling a PEV and federal subsidies available for purchasing a PEV. These results suggest that while consumer knowledge about PEVs remains low, short rides or drives in a PEV could be an effective, more scalable strategy for increasing PEV consideration across larger populations.


  title={Electric vehicle adoption: can short experiences lead to big change?},
  author={Roberson, Laura A and Helveston, John P},
  journal={Environmental Research Letters},
  publisher={IOP Publishing}
Back to top