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A systematic review of the evidence on plug-in electric vehicle user experience

15 June, 2019

A systematic review of the evidence on plug-in electric vehicle user experience

Jillian Anable

Research paper   Transport & Mobility

Edmond Daramy-Williams, Jillian Anable and Susan Grant-Muller


Plug-in electric vehicles (PEV), comprising both battery and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (BEVs and PHEVs), are innovations central to the low-carbon mobility transition. Despite this, there has not been a review of users’ experiences of them. We address this through this systematic review. Of 6492 references located from diverse sources, we synthesised and thematically organised findings from 75. We found a wide range of themes relating to user experiences, characterised broadly under: driving and travel behaviours; interactions with the vehicle; and subjective aspects of the user experience. Most of the evidence pertained to BEVs. Specific findings were as follows. The limited electric range of the BEV was not debilitating and users valued the limited electric-only range in PHEVs. In terms of journey-making, BEVs can fit into users’ lives. Regarding interactions with specific vehicle attributes, regenerative braking and low noise were very popularly received, although the in-vehicle instrumentation not universally so. Users freely offered wide-ranging improvements for future vehicles. There were important symbolic and social aspects of user experience. Themes relating to the former included environmentalism, futurism, and status/identity; to the latter, social influence and gender-distinct experiences. Overall, we qualifiedly conclude that PEVs can play an effective role in the transition: they can meet users’ travel needs satisfactorily, thereby being ‘acceptable’ to them, and are used at least as intensively as conventionally-fuelled vehicles, implying effective substitution away from more energy-intensive vehicle mileage.

Publication details

Daramy-Williams, E., Anable, J. and Grant-Muller, S. 2019. A systematic review of the evidence on plug-in electric vehicle user experience. Transportation Research Part D, 27: 22–36. doi: 10.1016/j.trd.2019.01.008

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