The role of instrumental, hedonic and symbolic attributes in the intention to adopt electric vehicles

Geertje Schuitema (Corresponding Author), Jillian Anable, Stephen Skippon, Neale Kinnear

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432 Citations (Scopus)
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Currently there is a strong focus on the electrification of light duty vehicles to reduce climate change impacts from road transport. However, private car drivers tend to be sceptical about adopting Electric Vehicles (EVs). This study, based on a national on-line survey of potential EV adopters in the UK, aims to understand how the perception of vehicle attributes may affect the intention to adopt these vehicles. A majority of the studies so far have focused solely on the functional aspects of EVs (instrumental attributes). Our study indicates that instrumental attributes are important because they are associated with other attributes derived from owning and using EVs, namely the pleasure of driving (hedonic attributes) and how proud someone is to drive a car (symbolic attributes). Moreover, we found that people who believe that a pro-environmental identity fits with their self-image are more likely to have positive perceptions of EV attributes. Those who consider themselves to be knowledgeable and enthusiastic about cars in general (car authority identity) were less likely to express positive perceptions of EV attributes. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-49
Number of pages11
JournalTransportation Research. Part A, Policy and Practice
Issue number-
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2013


  • electric vehicles
  • hedonic attributes
  • symboic attributes
  • pro-environmental behaviour
  • electric vehicle
  • perception of vehicle attributes
  • pro-environmental self-identity


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