How I see myself behind the wheel:

The influences of experience and symbolic perceptions on EV adoption

Extensive research shows that humans are not entirely rational decision-makers. When it comes to vehicles in particular, we seek not only to fulfill practical needs, but also to fulfill intangible needs as well. Emerging research involving electric vehicles (EVs) suggests that people strongly weigh symbolic attributes—intangible features of a vehicle that convey something about the driver (e.g., power, status)—in purchase decisions. Acknowledging and understanding human preferences such as these is essential for increasing EV market penetration. Prior research conducted by Dr. Sintov and her collaborators in California identified specific symbolic attributes—technology trendsetter, environmentalist, responsible citizen—that impacted consumer decisions more than “rational” factors such as cost, safety, performance, and fuel economy.

In this project, we partner with Smart Columbus in part to evaluate the replicability of our previous findings. Additionally, we have one manuscript in development to examine differences in EV adoption intentions among those who identify as Republicans vs. Democrats, and whether symbolic attributes mediate  the link between political identity and EV adoption intentions. A second manuscript in development examines the relative importance of symbolic (and “instrumental” – e.g., range, performance, costs) attributes in EV adoption decisions as users approach their next car purchase.

Methods: Survey of residents in Central Ohio

Project Phase: Data collection is complete, 1 manuscripts published, 1 in preparation

Collaborators: Smart Columbus: Columbus Partnership and Karen Ehrhardt-Martinez (Navigant)