Discontinuance is the term applied to the abandoning of a new technology by someone who was once an adopter or user. A new study by Scott Hardman and Gil Tal at the University of California, Davis has found that discontinuance occurs at a rate of 21% for California plug-in hybrid adopters and 19% for California battery electric vehicle adopters.
Hardman and Tal surveyed 4167 plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) owners in California. Of the 1856 responses who reached a decision point on PEV ownership, 20.96% discontinued ownership. Of those:
24.3% of those that discontinued BEV ownership are unlikely to purchase a BEV in the future;
10.5% are unsure; and
65.2% are likely to purchase one.
This suggests households may not permanently discontinue BEV ownership; however, they are considerably less likely to purchase a BEV than households who continue with BEV ownership (83.7% are likely to purchase another BEV). For respondents that discontinued PHEV ownership 19% are unlikely to purchase one, 12.4% are unsure, and 68.6% are likely to purchase one again.—Hardman and Tal
They found that BEV discontinuance is related to having fewer vehicles in the household; perceiving charging to be inconvenient; to not having level 2 charging from home; owning vehicles with lower efficiencies; and adopting a PEV in a later year.
PHEV discontinuance is related to being female; living in a multi-unit dwelling; having fewer household vehicles; dissatisfaction with the convenience of charging; purchase price and vehicle running costs; and undertaking more long-distance trips.
Range is not correlated with discontinuance—but satisfaction with and access to charging is.
Put another way, PEV adopters that may have been unhappy with the range of their vehicle could buy a longer-range vehicle in the future, but PEV adopters can’t purchase a vehicle that charges differently.
The researchers also found that discontinuance differences do exist between PEV makes. The highest rate of discontinuance is among those that adopted a Fiat PEV (38%), and the lowest is among those that adopted a Tesla PEV (10%).
Discontinuance is occurring concurrently with PEV adopters reporting incentives are more important and buyers’ socio-demographics changing each year. This may mean the introduction of BEVs will face more challenges over time as we strive to reach 100% zero emission vehicles in California by 2035.—Hardman and Tal
Hardman, S., & Tal, G. (2021). “Discontinuance Among California’s Electric Vehicle Buyers: Why are Some Consumers Abandoning Electric Vehicles? UC Davis: National Center for Sustainable Transportation.” doi: 10.7922/G26971W0