Can we hope for a collective shift in electric vehicle adoption? Testing salience and norm-based interventions in South Tyrol, Italy

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Abstract

Electric-drive vehicles (EVs)are a promising technology for containing environmental problems of the transport sector. However, to be effective on the environment, these need to be purchased by consumers in large quantities. Not only material barriers, but also cognitive biases prevent their diffusion. Particularly, EVs fail to capture a significant passenger car market share, even in regions that can overcome most material barriers. We report the findings from an online survey experiment administered to respondents of a region identified as a potential EV lead market, but which still fails to reach a significant EV market share. We test the effect of two behaviorally informed strategies on EV preferences: a norm-based and a salience intervention. To better identify treatment effect, we control for pro-environment self-identity, heterogeneity in key economic preferences, and size. Results show that making future cost savings salient significantly increases the likelihood of choosing EVs. However, the effect is limited to individuals displaying preferences for big vehicles and for valuing future benefits, and high values in the pro-environment self-identity measure. In addition, results show that EV choices are unaffected by the descriptive norm embedded in the norm-based intervention.

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DellaValle, N., & Zubaryeva, A. (2019). Can we hope for a collective shift in electric vehicle adoption? Testing salience and norm-based interventions in South Tyrol, Italy. Energy Research and Social Science, 55, 46–61. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.erss.2019.05.005

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