ARB Research Seminar

This page updated March 28, 2016

New Car Buyers' Valuation of Zero-Emission Vehicles

Photo of Ken Kurani, Ph.D.

Ken Kurani, Ph.D., Associate Researcher, Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California, Davis

April 20, 2016
Cal EPA Headquarters, 1001 "I" Street, Sacramento, CA

Research Project


New car buyers' valuation of Zero Emission Vehicle, (ZEV), technologies is critical to the success of State programs aimed at accelerating sales of battery electric vehicles, (BEVs), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, (PHEVs), and fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) in California. Valuation gauges consumers' willingness to consider purchasing a product.

New car buyers' valuation of ZEV technologies and vehicles was assessed through an on-line survey and follow-up interviews. After answering survey questions about their awareness, knowledge, experience, and consideration of these technologies, respondents were asked to design a plausible next new vehicle. After choosing their next vehicle, respondents were asked why they had, (or had not), included ZEV technologies in their next new vehicles. The survey was administered in California and several other states.

Analysis of survey results uncovered surprising differences between new car buyer valuation of ZEVs and marketplace behavior, as well as significant variation in consumer motives for choosing - or not choosing - to include ZEV technologies in their next new vehicles. Nearly one in four California respondents designed a PHEV (21%), BEV (11%), or FCEV (6%) in the survey's design game, despite continued low new car buyer awareness, knowledge and experience of ZEV technologies. Among new car buying households not designing ZEVs, follow-up interviews revealed a litany of questions and concerns affecting how they value ZEVs.

Speaker Biography

Ken Kurani, Ph.D., is an Associate Researcher at the University of California, Davis' Institute of Transportation Studies. Within the interdisciplinary setting of the Institute, he develops behavioral science approaches to understanding consumers' responses to new transportation technologies. Dr. Kurani's research also explores how citizen/consumers can use such new technologies to shape both their own lives and efforts to market, operate, and regulate transportation and communication networks to enhance energy efficiency, air quality, safety, and social equity. Dr. Kurani's present research at the Plug-in Hybrid & Electric Vehicle Center includes household response to plug-in and fuel cell electric vehicles as well as consumer valuation of energy and its private, social, and environmental consequences. He has a PhD in Civil and Environmental Engineering from UC Davis-though he now considers himself to be a recovering engineer.

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