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Choosing the Electric Car

Colin Whittle (University of Bath, UK)
Lorraine Whitmarsh (University of Bath, UK)

Electrifying Mobility: Realising a Sustainable Future for the Car

ISBN: 978-1-83982-635-1, eISBN: 978-1-83982-634-4

Publication date: 17 October 2022


In this chapter, we draw on social science theoretical and empirical literatures to discuss the factors that influence buying and using an electric vehicle (EV), as well as how adopting an EV can impact on other travel choices or broader sustainability behaviours. We provide an overview of theories of technology adoption, which expose the interplay of individual, technological, and societal factors that dictate how rapidly a technology will spread throughout society. From the empirical literature, we show that far from being a purely economic or pragmatic decision, choosing an EV is also deeply grounded in social, moral and personality factors, such as self-presentation, norms and values, and appetite for risking the novel. Furthermore, since running an EV is not the same as running an internal combustion engine vehicle (ICEV), we explore how adopters adjust their behaviour to the technology, and also how EV ownership may trigger or undermine broader shifts in lifestyle required to achieve climate change and other sustainability goals. We therefore provide a critical reflection on the drivers, barriers, and behavioural implications of choosing an EV.



Whittle, C. and Whitmarsh, L. (2022), "Choosing the Electric Car", Parkhurst, G. and Clayton, W. (Ed.) Electrifying Mobility: Realising a Sustainable Future for the Car (Transport and Sustainability, Vol. 15), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 97-115.



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