Skip to main content
eScholarship
Open Access Publications from the University of California

Research Reports

Cover page of Cost of Plug-in Electric Vehicle Ownership: The Cost of Transitioning to Five Million Plug-In Vehicles in California

Cost of Plug-in Electric Vehicle Ownership: The Cost of Transitioning to Five Million Plug-In Vehicles in California

(2021)

Total cost of ownership (TCO) studies are generally used as a tool to understand how and when plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) technology will reach cost parity with conventional fuel vehicles. Post cost-parity, the PEV market should be able to sustain without government intervention. The researchers present here a detailed analysis of vehicle manufacturing costs and market-level TCO accounting for technology uncertainties, behavioral heterogeneity, and key decision parameters of automakers. Using the estimates of the vehicle manufacturing costs, they estimate the cost of electrification of California’s LDV fleet to achieve the state’s net-zero emission goal by 2045. The results suggest that PEVs may not be cost competitive even in 2030 without stronger policy support and automakers initiative. Moreover, TCO is not a single number, and the cost of electrification will vary across the population based on the cost of vehicles available in the market, their charging capabilities at home and public, and energy costs. The TCO estimates and the cost of fleet electrification analysis not only has important implications for policymakers but can also offer a foundation for understanding the effect of market dynamics on the cost-competitiveness of the PEV technology.

View the NCST Project Webpage

Cover page of Emerging Technology Zero Emission Vehicle Household Travel and Refueling Behavior

Emerging Technology Zero Emission Vehicle Household Travel and Refueling Behavior

(2021)

Results from this report highlight how alternative fuel vehicles are used based on data collected between 2015 and 2020. Alternative fuel vehicles include plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs), vehicles that are either battery electric vehicles (BEVs) or plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), and fuel cell vehicles (FCVs). This category of vehicle technologies is included in the California Air Resources Board’s Zero Emission Vehicle regulations and is referred to as ZEV in this report. We explore the environmental impacts of driving, charging behavior and infrastructure. In households with ZEVs, the data from surveys, loggers, and interviews indicate that those vehicles are being used extensively. This report, which combined the data collected in two consecutive studies between 2015-2020, includes first and second generation PEVs popular in California between 2011-2018. The BEVs include the first-generation, shortrange Nissan Leaf and the long range BEVs such as the Chevrolet Bolt and Tesla Model S. The PHEVs include short range sedans such as the Toyota Prius Plug-in and longer-range vehicles such as the Toyota Prius Prime, Chevrolet Volt and Chrysler Pacifica. The FCVs include the most popular fuel cell vehicle, the Toyota Mirai.

Cover page of Discontinuance Among California’s Electric Vehicle Buyers: Why are Some Consumers Abandoning Electric Vehicles?

Discontinuance Among California’s Electric Vehicle Buyers: Why are Some Consumers Abandoning Electric Vehicles?

(2021)

For the market introduction of electric vehicles to be successful, first-time adopters need to make continual purchases of the vehicles. Discontinuance, the act of abandoning a new technology after once being an adopter, has implications for market growth and could prevent electric vehicles from ever reaching 100% market share. Using results from five surveys of electric vehicle owners, the researchers examine discontinuance among battery electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicle adopters. In this sample, discontinuance occurs at a rate of 21% for plug-in hybrid adopters and 19% for battery electric vehicle adopters. They show that discontinuance is related to dissatisfaction with convenience of charging, owning household vehicles with lower efficiencies, being a later adopter of PEVs, not having Level 2 (220V) charging from home, and not being male. Despite consumers overcoming initial barriers of PEVs, it appears some barriers, notably their refueling style, resurface during ownership and eventually become a barrier to continuing with PEV ownership.

View the NCST Project Webpage

Cover page of Facilitating Electric Vehicle Adoption with Vehicle Cost Calculators

Facilitating Electric Vehicle Adoption with Vehicle Cost Calculators

(2020)

Consumer education regarding the costs of electric vehicles (EVs), particularly in comparison with similar gasoline vehicles, is important for adoption. However, the complexity of comparing gasoline and electricity prices, and balancing long-term return-on-investment from fuel and maintenance savings with purchase premiums for EVs, makes it difficult for consumers to assess potential economic advantages. Online vehicle cost calculators (VCCs) may help consumers navigate this complexity by providing tailored estimates of different types of vehicles costs for users and enabling comparisons across multiple vehicles. However, VCCs range widely and there has been virtually no behavioral research to identify functionalities and features that determine their usefulness in engaging and educating consumers and promoting EV adoption. This research draws on a behavioral theory, systematic review of available VCCs, and user research with three VCCs to articulate design recommendations for effective VCCs.

View the NCST Project Webpage

Cover page of Characteristics and Experiences of Ride-Hailing Drivers with Plug-in Electric Vehicles

Characteristics and Experiences of Ride-Hailing Drivers with Plug-in Electric Vehicles

(2020)

Electrification of transportation network companies (TNCs; e.g., Uber and Lyft) presents a path for reduced emissions as well as potential benefits to drivers via reduced costs for fueling and vehicle maintenance. This report describes 732 TNC PEV drivers in the United States in terms of their demographic characteristics, motivations for driving PEVs on TNCs, charging patterns, and ideas to improve the experience of driving PEVs on TNCs. Greater understanding of these early adopters can inform strategies to promote further adoption. The economic benefits of fuel and maintenance savings associated with PEVs featured in drivers’ reported motivations for PEV adoption. Most BEV and PHEV drivers reported charging their PEV every day, most often at home and overnight, and most were willing to charge once or more while actively driving on TNCs. A large cluster of TNC PEV drivers reported predominately using public DC fast charging, indicating a heavy reliance on public charging infrastructure. Range limitations topped the list of reasons why PHEV drivers did not opt for a BEV, and increased range topped the list of PEV drivers’ wishes to better support PEVs on TNCs. The next most common wish was for more charger locations. The third and fourth ranked wishes were financial bonuses for trip targets and more pre-trip information, which are more exclusively under the control of TNCs.

Cover page of Exploring the Role of Cities in Electrifying Passenger Transportation

Exploring the Role of Cities in Electrifying Passenger Transportation

(2020)

Key Takeaways

1. The electrification of passenger vehicles should be one part of a city’s transportation plan. Shifting from internal combustion engine vehicles to plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) can improve urban air quality, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and reduce energy consumption.

2. Recent studies show that electric vehicle awareness is low even in mature markets; cities should promote electric vehicles to residents by leveraging existing promotional campaigns.

3. Various financial and non-financial incentives can effectively encourage electric vehicle uptake, including: free, discounted, or preferential-location parking; free or reduced road and bridge tolls; and allowing electric vehicles to drive in bus or carpool lanes.

4. Several cities are restricting or planning to restrict the access that internal combustion engine vehicles (ICEVs) have to certain areas. If these restrictions apply to most (or all) passenger ICEVs, they can promote PEV purchase and use in cities.

5. Infrastructure development in cities should follow the same fundamental approach as that used outside of cities. The priority should be ensuring that PEV owners and prospective PEV buyers have access to charging at or near home. Workplace and public charging should be developed for those who cannot access charging at or near home.

6. Cities should be strategic in their approach, first identifying the goals they want to achieve, and then exploring what steps they can take to meet these goals. The steps available will likely differ between cities due to the different ways in which roads, parking, and any other vehicle infrastructure is governed.

Cover page of User Perceptions of Safety and Security: A Framework for a Transition to Electric-Shared-Automated Vehicles

User Perceptions of Safety and Security: A Framework for a Transition to Electric-Shared-Automated Vehicles

(2019)

The confluence of vehicle electrification, sharing and pooling, and automation alters petroleum-fueled, human-piloted, and privately-owned and operated vehicles for personal mobility in ways that raises such questions as, “Are such systems safe and secure?” and, “Who is being kept safe and secure from what (or whom)?” Answers are implied by filling in the “who” and “whom” of the second question: system, product, producer, road, and user. This white paper focuses on (actual and potential) users of systems of electrically-powered, shared, and automated vehicles (e-SAVs) as well as other road-users, e.g., pedestrians and cyclists. The role of user perceptions of safety and security are reviewed to create an initial framework to evaluate how they may affect who will initially use systems of e-SAVs for personal mobility and how safety and security will have to be addressed to foster sustained transitions. The paper will primarily be a resource for e-SAV user research, but will also inform system development, operation, and governance. This white paper offers an overarching framework grounded in the social theory of “risk society” and thus organizes past work that, typically, focuses on only one of the constituent technologies or on one dimension of safety or security, e.g., collision avoidance as a subset of road safety.

View the NCST Project Webpage

Cover page of Understanding the Early Adopters of Fuel Cell Vehicles

Understanding the Early Adopters of Fuel Cell Vehicles

(2019)

In this study, the author presents results from a survey of 906 FCV and 12,910 BEV households in California. They investigated the sociodemographic profile of FCV buyers and compare them to BEV households. FCV and BEV households are similar in many areas. There is no significant difference in household income, number of people in the household, number of vehicles in the household, gender, or level of education. However, FCV and BEV households do differ in some key areas. Compared to BEV households, FCV households are slightly older; less own their own home; more live in an apartment, condo, or townhouse; they have owned more alternative fuel vehicles previously (but fewer BEVs); they have higher VMT; and slightly longer commutes. These differences may explain why these households choose to adopt a FCV. As fewer FCV households own their home, and more live in multi-unit dwellings they may have more barriers to accessing recharging from home, which may be why they selected a FCV rather than a BEV. Their slightly longer commutes and higher VMT may mean they perceive FCVs to be a better fit with their household’s travel patterns, though their commutes are well within the range of a BEV.

View the NCST Project Webpage

Cover page of Exploring the Role of Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles in Electrifying Passenger Transportation

Exploring the Role of Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles in Electrifying Passenger Transportation

(2019)

Key Takeaways

1. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) have an important role in the electrifi cation of passenger transportation. Long-range PHEVs not only are a transitional technology. They also are an enabling technology that can encourage more consumers to adopt electric vehicles.

2. The electric range of PHEVs has a signifi cant impact on electric vehicle miles traveled. PHEVs with electric range of at least 60km (37 miles (EPA Range)) have a similar ability to electrify travel as short-range battery electric vehicles (BEVs).

3. Assuming the goal of policymakers is to increase electric vehicle miles traveled, policy support should correspond directly to electric driving range of both PHEVs and BEVs. Short-range PHEVs should receive less policy support; long-range PHEVs and BEVs should receive more policy support.

4. Consumer research in several countries shows that mainstream consumers tend to be more attracted to PHEVs than to BEVs, however many consumers are unaware of how a PHEV diff ers from a BEV. Consumers and car dealerships need to be educated about PHEVs, their benefi ts, and the importance of charging the vehicles.