Working Paper

Literature review of electric vehicle consumer awareness and outreach

This paper reviews current practices by national and subnational governments around the world that aim to increase consumer awareness, understanding, and exposure to electric vehicles.

It summarizes the literature that identifies and examines the importance of consumer awareness, including the role of consumer awareness in supporting the transition to electric drive. The paper includes an overview of exemplary consumer awareness actions in leading electric vehicle markets, as well as additional discussion of five case studies to provide deeper detail and insight on some of the more mature consumer-oriented awareness and outreach campaigns.

Based on the review, the authors conclude with the following findings –

  1. Action to increase consumer awareness is a key part of supporting the growth in the early electric vehicle market. On average, consumers in many regions are largely unfamiliar with electric vehicle technology, unaware of available incentives, and uninformed about the range of benefits that electric vehicles provide. Research finds that consumers with some level of understanding of and experience with the technology are more likely to consider an electric vehicle in future purchases.
  2. Stakeholders would ideally collaborate to leverage strengths and effectively utilize limited resources on electric vehicle awareness campaigns. A wide range of stakeholders have taken action to increase education and awareness, including multiple levels of government, nonprofit organizations, businesses, academic institutions, local communities, and individuals. There are many opportunities to increase outreach efficacy through collaboration, especially as the technology and programs to promote it continue to mature.
  3. Sustained programs that utilize a broad range of outreach and awareness actions are more likely to capture a wider audience of prospective electric vehicle consumers. A well-designed, comprehensive program would utilize a range of actions to maximize consumers’ exposure to electric vehicles (e.g., fleet purchases, demonstration projects, consumer awareness media campaigns, signage), and provide prospective consumers with easy access to consumer-friendly information (e.g., one-stop shop websites, test drives, easy buying/leasing processes).
  4. Local context and resources can be important in assessing the feasibility and effectiveness of an electric vehicle consumer awareness program. Several existing awareness and outreach programs are focused on the local landscape, making them suitable for addressing unique local challenges and barriers. Furthermore, targeted programs can increase sales and exposure to the public, while also providing hands-on experience to drivers who otherwise may not have had prior exposure to or understanding of the technology.