Social justice and health issues impact electric vehicle uptake, study finds


Researchers have found that effective communication of the social and health benefits of owning an EV can be a motivator to influence greater adoption of EVs.

The to study, published in the journal Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, analyzed Facebook posts in the United States related to electric vehicles, using machine learning based on a PESTLE (Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal and Environmental) framework that examines the intersection of various words and phrases.

“Social media offers a wealth of information to better understand how the public perceives the energy transition from carbon-emitting internal combustion engines to electric vehicles,” said study co-author David Reiner of Cambridge Judge Business School.

Reiner and colleagues used machine learning and social media analytics to identify through Facebook posts which aspects people valued in electric vehicles, and found that social justice, clean air, better health and better health. a shift towards electric vehicles becoming a service industry have become key themes.

The theme of social justice was fairly ubiquitous in the researchers’ findings. An important discourse that shaped the social justice and welfare dimensions of electric vehicles centered on the idea that “We can all benefit from more electric vehicles”, as this is linked to environmental benefits such as a cleaner air, less pollution, mitigation of climate change and better health for all. There was also broad agreement on the need for state support to make electric vehicles more affordable.

“While governments around the world have launched ambitious targets for electric vehicles, increasingly through regulatory measures rather than direct subsidies, there has been little academic research on the drivers of electric vehicle adoption. electric vehicles, ”Reiner said. “This new study helps fill this knowledge gap and can be a useful tool for energy policy development in this vital area.”

Breaking down the PESTLE framework, the study found that Facebook posts relating to policy aspects were mainly related to the tax and subsidies for electric vehicles; articles on the economy focusing on consumption costs and the expansion of the electric vehicle market; the social dimension centered on job creation, investment and clean air; Technological stations focused on charging and batteries; while the legal and environmental articles focused mainly on climate change and the discussion of sustainability related to electric vehicles.

The 36,000 public electric vehicle Facebook posts that were analyzed, all published in 2020, generated a body of text of 600,000 words or terms that formed the data for modeling the subject of the study.

As automakers consider the potential of EVs as a subscription service, the study also highlights the importance of understanding how EVs are now being adopted at the community level, as this will influence the future design of shared ownership programs. and by subscription.

Electric vehicle sales topped 2.1 million worldwide in 2019, with 90% of sales in China, Europe and the United States, the study observes, with sales of fully electric light vehicles in the United States rising. from zero in 2010 to 242,000 in 2019.


Ramit Debnath et al. ‘Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal, and Environmental Dimensions of Electric Vehicle Adoption in the United States: An Analysis of Social Media Interaction. ‘ Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews (2021). DOI: 10.1016 / j.rser.2021.111707

Adapted from a story on the Cambridge Judge Business School website.

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