Understanding Household Preferences For Alternative-Fuel Vehicle Technologies

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This report explores consumer preferences among four different alternative-fuel vehicles (AFVs): hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles, hydrogen fuel cell (HFC) vehicles, and electric vehicles (EVs). Although researchers have been interested in understanding consumer preferences for AFVs for more than three decades, it is important to update our estimates of the trade-offs people are willing to make between cost, environmental performance, vehicle range, and refuel¬ing convenience. We conducted a nationwide, Internet-based survey to assess consumer preferences for AFVs. Respondents participated in a stated-preference ranking exercise in which they ranked a series of five vehicles (four AFVs and a traditional gasoline-fueled vehicle) that differ primarily in fuel type, price, environmental performance, vehicle range, and refueling conve¬nience. Our findings indicate that, in general, gasoline-fueled vehicles are still preferred over AFVs, however there is a strong interest in AFVs. No AFV type is overwhelmingly preferred, although HEVs seem to have an edge. Using a panel rank-ordered mixed logit model, we assessed the trade-offs people make between key AFV characteristics. We found that, in order to leave a person’s utility unchanged, a $1,000 increase in AFV cost needs to be compensated by either: (1) a $300 savings in driving cost over 12,000 miles; (2) a 17.5 mile increase in vehicle range; or (3) a 7.8-minute decrease in total refueling time (e.g. finding a gas station and refueling).



Dr. Nixon is an Associate Professor of Urban and Regional Planning at San José State University. Her research and teaching interests are in the field of environmental planning. Specifically, her research explores how humans interact with and are inseparable from the physical environment they inhabit. In particular, she is interested in the environmental consequences of technology, ecological behavior and “green” consumerism, linkages be¬tween transportation and the environment, and nongovernmental organizations and cor¬porate engagement. She has a BA from the University of Rochester in Environmental Management, an MA in International Business from National University in San Diego, and a PhD in Planning, Policy and Design from the University of California, Irvine.


Dr. Saphores is an Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Planning, and Economics at the University of California, Irvine. His research interests include un¬derstanding preferences for “green” products using discrete choice models, decision mak¬ing under uncertainty using real options, infrastructure management, linkages between transportation and the environment, and environmental economics. He earned a BS in Civil Engineering and Applied Mathematics from Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussees, Paris (France), an MS in Civil Engineering from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and an MS in Environmental Systems, an MA in Economics, and a PhD in Environ¬mental Economics from Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.

June 2011
Alternative fuels
Motor vehicles
Consumer preferences
Stated preferences
Mixed logit



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