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A new study suggests that the accessibility of home-based chargers advances the popularity of plug-in vehicles more than the availability of public charging stations.
The study was conducted by Joseph Bailey, Amy Miele and Jonn Axsen, all affiliated with Canadian-based Simon Fraser University (SFU).
“When we account for the relevant factors, our analysis suggests that the relationship between public charger awareness and plug-in electric vehicle demand is weak or non-existent,” says Axsen.
“In other words, the installation of public chargers might not be the best way to encourage growth in the electric vehicle market.”
The awareness of public charging stations was definitely higher in regions that had already installed chargers in public areas. In British Columbia, which had almost 500 public chargers at the time of the study, about 30-percent of the residents surveyed said they had seen at least one public charging station. That was significantly higher than the 13-percent living outside the province.
But, according to the study, that didn’t mean that consumers were more likely to buy a plug-in.
“Since cars such as the Chevy Volt don’t rely only on electricity, potential buyers aren’t concerned about public charging,” says Bailey.
“People can just recharge at home, and then drive wherever they want on any given day. The good news is that about two-thirds of car buyers already have some type of charging access at home.”
These results may help governments decide how to best support the growth of low-emission and zero-emission vehicles in their region.
“Given what we’ve seen here, it seems wise for governments to focus their money on incentives other than public electric vehicle chargers,” says Axsen.
“We know that purchase rebates can spark consumer interest, and we’ve shown that home charging is important.
“In combination with the implementation of a Zero Emissions Vehicle mandate like California’s, these measures could be the biggest boosters of electric vehicle sales.”
For the study, SFU researchers polled 1,739 households buying a new car in Canada in 2013. A third (536) of the consumers lived in British Columbia.