Sussex psychologists plug in to attitudes to electric cars

An electric car being charged on a city street

Psychologists at the University of Sussex are working with Shoreham-based engineering company Ricardo UK Ltd and a range of UK partners to investigate consumer attitudes to electric vehicles.

Along with Ricardo, Sussex is working with the University of Aberdeen, the Transport Research Laboratory and Element Energy to inform the creation of detailed computer models.  These will be used to forecast the uptake and use of plug-in or battery driven electric cars.  The models will include detail on preferred types of vehicles and types of power generation, market segmentation, mechanisms and behaviours for consumer choice, as well as the logistics of vehicle re-charging infrastructure.

The Sussex psychologists will design and analyse in-depth interviews with consumers to plot the key factors that influence people’s adoption and use of plug-in electric cars.  The results of these interviews will contribute to the design of a further survey of 3,000 potential plug-in car users.

The leader of the University of Sussex team, Professor Charles Abraham, said: “With these interviews we’re trying to find out as much as possible about how consumers would respond to plug-in vehicles, what are the issues likely to affect adoption in different sectors of the market and also what kind of vehicles people prefer.” 

One of three major research projects being launched by the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) today (15th March 2010), the project is part of the ETI’s £11 million low-carbon vehicle plan to support the roll-out of electric vehicles in the UK market. 

The three projects, due for completion in 2011, will be delivered by world-class consortia including industry, academic and consultancy expertise. The three contracts will be led by Arup, IBM and Ricardo UK Ltd, in collaboration with the Institute for Transport Studies at the University of Leeds, E.ON Engineering, EDF Energy, IC Consultants Ltd, TRL Ltd, Shell, University of Aberdeen, the University of Sussex and Element Energy.

Dr David Clarke, the chief executive officer of the Energy Technologies Institute, said: “By developing and robustly testing these pathways, we aim to act as a guiding light to support over £300 million of UK investment already committed to infrastructure deployment and consumer incentives for plug-in vehicles.”

This announcement from the ETI follows Government’s commitment to provide grants to consumers of up to £5,000 to buy ultra-low carbon cars and the roll-out of supporting infrastructure to London, the North East and Milton Keynes, the three locations signed up to the ETI’s Joined-Cities Plan.

For press information contact: Danielle Treanor, University of Sussex.  t. 0774 0099325

Last updated: Friday, 19 March 2010