Early adopters of electric vehicles (EV) in Queensland are climate-conscious tech enthusiasts willing to pay more to reduce their carbon emissions according to a Griffith University survey.

Dr Anna Mortimore from Griffith Business School has completed the first comprehensive survey of 370 EV owners in Queensland to better understand who is buying these cars, their motivations and daily driving habits.

She was surprised to find that the most significant reason for choosing an EV was to reduce CO2 emissions.

“Australia has no mandatory national policies in place to reduce carbon emissions from road vehicles. There are no significant subsidies or incentives for buying an EV and consumers are concerned with range anxiety and the availability of public charging infrastructure.

“Early adopters are essentially paying more for their cars and are adjusting their lifestyle, driving habits and energy needs.”

“Early adopters are essentially paying more for their cars and are adjusting their lifestyle, driving habits and energy needs.”

The self-reliant suburban rechargers

Most early adopters are men, university-educated and high-income earners. The majority of EV owners also live in detached homes and take care of their own charging.

“These consumers are quite tech-savvy and self-reliant, 93% recharged at home during off-peak hours to reduce their energy cost. Well over half surveyed were using a combination of the grid and solar and 6% of respondents were only using solar.

“So, most Queensland EV owners were reducing their carbon emissions by using renewable energy and being less dependent on the grid.”

Range anxiety, average driving habits and owner satisfaction

Dr Mortimore said when it came to range anxiety more than half of early adopters had factored in driving on a single charge as an important purchasing consideration.

“For most their travel on weekdays did not exceed 70 kilometres and up to half of respondents travelled no more than 50 kilometres. Weekend driving patterns shift slightly upwards, but most EV cars sold today would meet the driving patterns reported making it less of a barrier to entry.”

She said the ability to charge at home and the savings on running costs for fuel, repairs and maintenance meant over half of the owners were extremely satisfied with their purchase and more than two-third were extremely likely to buy another EV in the future.

“Our results match up with similar international surveys and demonstrate to policy makers an opportunity to expand the early adopter base through incentives targeted at these self-reliant suburban dwellers.

“But without a mandatory national policy to reduce carbon emissions on our road, our climate future could depend on the goodwill of consumers paying more to drive EVs.”

The survey was designed in collaboration with Energy Queensland and Queensland Government Transport, Main Roads.