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Understanding discontinuance among California’s electric vehicle owners


For the market share of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) to continue to grow and reach 100% of new vehicle sales, adopters of the technology, who initially buy PEVs, will need to continue choosing them in subsequent purchases. Although much research has focused on the reasons for, and barriers to, initial PEV purchase, less has been devoted to the reasons for discontinuance—abandoning a new technology after first purchasing it. Here, on the basis of results from five questionnaire surveys, we find that PEV discontinuance in California occurs at a rate of 20% for plug-in hybrid electric vehicle owners and 18% for battery electric vehicle owners. We show that discontinuance is related to dissatisfaction with the convenience of charging, having other vehicles in the household that are less efficient, not having level 2 (240-volt) charging at home, having fewer household vehicles and not being male.

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Fig. 1: Percent of PHEV and BEV owners who discontinued ownership.
Fig. 2: Percent of PEV owners who discontinued ownership by make of original PEV owned.
Fig. 3: Satisfaction with previous PEV.
Fig. 4: Usage of different charging types.

Data availability

The questionnaire survey data used in this study can be obtained from The Dryad Digital Repository: More information on the data, the variables included, and a description of each variable are available in DRYAD.


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We thank M. Favetti for programming and supporting the development of the questionnaire survey used in this study, S. Karten for proofreading and editing the paper before submission. The analysis conducted in this study was funded by a grant from the National Center for Sustainable Transportation (NCST), supported by USDOT through the University Transportation Centers programme (USDOT grant no. 69A3551747114). The questionnaire surveys were funded by the California Air Resources Board (CARB). We thank NCST, USDOT and CARB for their support of this project.

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Authors and Affiliations



S.H. and G.T. were responsible for study design and conception, performed data collection, drafted and revised the manuscript, and approved the final version of the manuscript. S.H. performed the analysis.

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Correspondence to Scott Hardman.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

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Peer review information Nature Energy thanks Stefan Mabit and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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Supplementary Tables 1–6 and Fig. 1.

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Hardman, S., Tal, G. Understanding discontinuance among California’s electric vehicle owners. Nat Energy 6, 538–545 (2021).

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