Electric Vehicle Ownership Factors, Preferred Safety Technologies and Commuting Behavior in the United States

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Electric vehicles (EVs) are expected to reduce climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions, potentially reduce the ground-level ozone experienced during summers over the Mid-Atlantic’s I-95 Corridor, and possibly reduce dependence on fossil fuels. EVs may also be an agent for diffusion of connected vehicle technologies and the resulting safety benefits. EVs are typically small size and light weight in order to achieve sufficient driving range, perhaps necessitating robust collision avoidance systems to allay fears of small vehicle vulnerability. The objectives of the research are to determine from online surveys applied nationally the factors that contributed to EV ownership and owners’ commuting behavior and mode choice and to make recommendations for public investments in support of EV ownership. Research would also discern the expectations of EV owners regarding safety equipment and benefits.This research surveyed registered plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) and battery electric vehicle (BEV) owners and internal combustion engine vehicle (ICEV) owners nationwide regarding attitudes toward vehicle purchasing, demand for safety technologies, travel behavior, and mode choice for work trips before and after purchase. Statistical analyses of the survey results revealed that: EV owners are more affluent, older, more environmentally focused white males than ICEV owners; EVs were most popular among Democrats and least among those not interested in politics; Although EVs are generally equipped with more safety technologies than ICEVs, EV owners still care slightly more about safety features for their next vehicle; Owners use EVs for commuting to work, but transit is not a significant mode choice; EV owners have more traditional suburb-to-city and city-to-city commute patterns, while ICEV owners engage in slightly more dispersed trip-making; Among ICEV owners market penetration of EVs continues to be a challenge because of price.