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Counteracting electric vehicle range concern with a scalable behavioural intervention

Abstract

All-electric vehicles remain far from reaching the market share required to meaningfully reduce transportation-related CO2 emissions. While financial and technological adoption barriers are increasingly being removed, psychological barriers remain insufficiently addressed. Here we show that car owners systematically underestimate the compatibility of available battery ranges with their annual mobility needs and that this underestimation is associated with increased demand for long battery ranges and reduced willingness to adopt electric vehicles. We tested a simple intervention to counteract this bias: providing tailored compatibility information reduced range concern and increased willingness to pay for electric vehicles with battery ranges between 60 and 240 miles, relative to a 50-mile-range baseline model. Compatibility information more strongly increased willingness to pay than did information about easy access to charging infrastructure, and it selectively increased willingness to pay for car owners who would derive greater financial benefits from adopting an electric vehicle. This scalable intervention may complement classical policy approaches to promote the electrification of mobility.

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Fig. 1: Perceived and actual compatibility of BEVs with annual mobility needs.
Fig. 2: Effects of the compatibility and the infrastructure intervention on car owners’ range concerns and relative willingness to pay.

Data availability

All data are publicly available at https://doi.org/10.17605/OSF.IO/8YZPF.

Code availability

The code used to generate the results and figures is publicly available at https://doi.org/10.17605/OSF.IO/8YZPF.

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Acknowledgements

This research was supported by Swiss Federal Office of Energy grant SI/501597-01 (U.J.J.H. and T.B.) and is part of the activities of SCCER CREST (Swiss Competence Center for Energy Research), supported by the Swiss Innovation Agency (Innosuisse). The funding source had no involvement in the preparation of the article, in the study design, the collection, analysis and interpretation of data, nor in the writing of the manuscript. We thank B. Meuleman and F. Braccioli for statistical advice and L. McCaughey, T. Vogel and the members of the Consumer Decision and Sustainable Behavior Lab for fruitful discussions.

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M.H, U.J.J.H. and T.B. designed the research. M.H. collected and analysed the data. M.H, U.J.J.H. and T.B. wrote the paper.

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Correspondence to Mario Herberz or Tobias Brosch.

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Nature Energy thanks Sonja Haustein, Josef Krems and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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Supplementary Notes 1–9, Figs. 1–3, Tables 1–8, Methods and References.

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Herberz, M., Hahnel, U.J.J. & Brosch, T. Counteracting electric vehicle range concern with a scalable behavioural intervention. Nat Energy 7, 503–510 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41560-022-01028-3

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