The adoption of electric cars

Fisker Karma Mondial Paris 2013When a new technology appears on the scene, such as electric vehicles, there is almost always the question why it isn’t adopted quickly. Again, such as seems the case now with the adoption of electric cars.

General theory on adoption shows that the rate of adoption is depending on various factors. “The rate of adoption usually starts slow, accelerates until about 50% of the community has adopted the technology, then decelerates, eventually approaching zero, as nearly everyone in the community has adopted the technology.” From Barriers to Adopting Technology, by Darrel L Butler and Martin Sellbom. The graph below shows the phases of innovation adoption by consumers. I am pretty sure you have seen this bell curve before.adoption curve

It appears there is not really one reason why new technology is adopted slowly, but in the majority of cases it is a combination. And if a technological innovation is truly disruptive, it can be resisted for really any reason. At least that is what Robert Treuman concludes, when he sums up the top 15 factors he found as barriers for the adoption of online meeting software.

Worldwide car manufacturers are struggling to meet the initial penetration targets they set for their EV products. So, what is holding consumers back as more and more electric vehicles come available to the market?  McKinsey Quarterly reports that 16% of new car sales in the New York, 9% in Paris and 5% in Shanghai could be electric by 2015. Green minded potential buyers are even willing to adjust their driving and parking habits to own an electric car. Even limited charging possibilities is not holding back the early adopters. Since urban driving is about short distances, another obstacle – limited driving disctance – seems to be overcome. What really drives New York and Shanghai buyers is the status of an electric car: standing out from the crowd and being the first with the latest technology.

Research by Cendris in The Netherlands found different reasons for the adoption of EVs. 11% of the Dutch car owners is expecting to buy an EV in the coming 2,5 years. The main reasons are

  1. Care for the environment – green mindedness
  2. The low running cost of electricity versus petrol.
  3. The convenience of charging at home
  4. Being innovative and
  5. The silent and comfortable drive.

What do you think is going to be the main reason for buying an electric car in a few years’ time ? Leave your answer below.

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