Hybrid and EV Adoption Comes Down To…Genetics?

Prius Twins

Most auto market analysts point to gas prices, payback periods or public education as the key to increasing adoption of hybrid cars and electric vehicles.

When you ask hybrid buyers, they’ll tell you that they’re doing something positive for the environment, reducing oil dependence, or investing in innovative new technologies—while saving a few pennies at the pumps. As we reported in June, behavioral economist Dan Ariely believes that Prius-buyers go hybrid to pat themselves on the back for a kind gesture for Mother Earth.

And now a new study from the Journal of Consumer Researcher says that it comes down to genetics.

The researchers behind the study, Itamar Simonson of Stanford University and Aner Sela of the University of Florida, examined an entire range of consumer decisions by identical twins, as well as non-identical twins. In many case, the identical twins made the same decision, suggesting that consumer choices are influenced by genetic factors.

While the researchers learned that identical twins share certain “tendencies”—like moderation over extremes or playing it safe instead of gambling—they also align on some specific products, including hybrid cars. Other products with genetic correlations included sci-fi movies, jazz music, chocolate, and mustard. Oddly, however, the authors said that there was no such common genetic predilection for ketchup or tattooing.

According to the authors, they hope the study shines light on why some people may be born with a tendency to ‘be in the mainstream’ whereas others tend to ‘live on the edge.”
And yet, in the face of an automobile industry making an inexorable shift toward higher efficiency and greater technological diversity, a potential genetic green car disposition among some buyers—while amusing to consider—may be among the weakest explanations for driving or not driving a hybrid or electric car.


  • PatrickPunch

    Maybe HEVs and EVs should be branded as must have items. For example sell them as iCars from Apple.

  • JamesDavis

    I believe genes have nothing to do with it. I think it all comes down to availability and economics. Fossil fuel vehicles is the only thing we have to choose from that we don’t have to sell the house before we can buy one. Start flooding the market with hybrids and electric cars and price them the same as fossil fuel vehicles and watch the sale of electric cars skyrocket. Almost everyone, except the people with more money than brains, will go with the electric car because we are sick and tired of having to spend a third of our pay to fill up our tanks. We can buy a solar panel, with a 30 year life span, to charge our electric car battery and GE has came out with a charging station that can be placed anywhere and we can even charge our electric car at the beach parking lot if we want to. So guess which one of the three types, fossil fuel vehicles, hybrid, or electric, people will rush to buy?

    Genes has nothing to do with me wanting to breathe clean air, drink clean water, or live on clean pollution free land. And as soon as the big three American auto makers realize that, the more wealthy they will become from the sale of their electric vehicles.

  • Old Man Crowder

    So if I understand this correctly, the world needs more identical twins in order to stimulate the hybrid market.

    And to help things along, hybrid commercial jingles should use Ray Charles and Diana Krall songs and the vehicles should come with that “new chocolate and mustard” smell.

  • Job001

    JamesDavis has a good point. Behaviorist studies rely upon data correlation which does not prove causality. Often economics will drive behavior as the “adaptability” of humans has historically shown.
    I wonder if the snobish attitudes of the relatively wealthy researchers bleed through into this subtle ridicule of economy cars, I’ve noticed similar wealth related snobish attitudes in a few people I know.
    Quick, someone, give me a grant to do a “Study”.

  • Shines

    Crowder I like your sense of humour :-) Is that really your picture? – don’t answer that. I’m not a twin, but I want a hybrid and I also like: sci-fi movies, jazz music, chocolate, and mustard. If my care smelled like chocolate that would be fine. I like my mustard with ham and rye. Maybe I should be looking for my long lost twin brother. Funny my parents never mentioned him. He probably drives a Fusion or Escape Hybrid since I am fond of Fords…