Quality, environmental and economic factors influencing electric vehicles penetration in the Italian market
Russo Spena P
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Purpose This paper aiming at identifying the economic, qualitative, technical, and environmental factors influencing the Italian customers' motivation when purchasing a vehicle, focusing on internal combustion engine vehicles and alternative powertrain such as hybrid electric, plug-in hybrid electric, and battery electric vehicles. This research attempts to ascertain which factors such as reductions in fuel costs and greenhouse gas emissions, incentives on the purchase price, road tax, and car insurance, could encourage the adoption of electric vehicles instead of conventional ones. This study also attempts to ascertain which aspects of a vehicle guarantee the full satisfaction of customer needs by providing the expected quality. Other questions ask respondents to indicate their favorite electric vehicle, body style and to indicate which fuel consumption is considered efficient for a hybrid vehicle. Finally, this research examines the main barriers to the electric vehicles market introduction. Design/methodology/approach To examine and to understand customers' perceptions about electric vehicles, an empirical investigation was carried out. Data collection was based on an empirical investigation through a survey. 600 paper copies of a questionnaire were delivered to potential Italian car customers (in possession of a car or intentioned to purchase one) in 2012, from May to October. Further questionnaires were collected by an online-survey. After receiving the questionnaires back from the respondents, a statistical analysis was carried out to provide an overview of the main barriers considered when considering an electric vehicle and of the most important attributes of a motor vehicle. Three important categories of attributes for the surveyed customers were evaluated: economic, qualitative/technical and environmental/practical. These categories were obtained by an analysis of 22 factors. Originality/value Focus on customer satisfaction is an important goal in business practice. Against this background, our research has several implications for companies operating in the automotive industry. This paper provides information on the orientations and perceptions of passenger car enthusiasts and identifies potential socio-technical-economic barriers to the adoption of electric vehicles. It also determines if sustainability issues influence consumer decisions when purchasing an EV. The results of this study can provide a guide to the decisions of the engineers during the design phase to incorporate consumer preferences and then ensure the quality that customers expect from the product. The results are also useful for policy makers, who may use media and social networks to influence the appreciation of potential buyers for non-financial benefits such as energy security and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.