Press release 2019-04-03

Municipal electric vehicle policies have a considerable impact on residents purchase decisions

Studies carried out by IVL and the University of Gothenburg show that the procurement of an electric vehicle fleet by local councils and investment in electric vehicle charging infrastructure ramps up the number of electric cars purchased by local residents.

New registration of electric vehicles is on the increase in Sweden, but adoption rates vary considerably between different municipalities. In joint studies, researchers at IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute and the University of Gothenburg have found linkages between local policy instruments and the proportion of newly registered electric cars in Swedish municipalities between 2010 and 2016.

– The studies show that municipal investment in charging points has led to an increased number of electric cars, especially in large cities. These are the first studies that investigate the causality between a number of local instruments and newly registered electric vehicles in Swedish boroughs, says Magnus Hennlock, researcher at IVL.

A correlation between the number of charging points and the number of electric vehicles is often apparent in municipal statistics. But whether it is the frequency of charging points that generates electric cars or vice versa has not previously been demonstrated. To answer that question, the researchers conducted so-called reverse causality tests. They found that it was the availability of charging points that gave rise to the electric vehicles, rather than the reverse. The study has now been updated with more recent data that confirms this finding.

The effect of municipal charging points was larger in greater metropolitan areas than in smaller towns. In big cities, charging points are best placed in residential areas, where charging possibilities are often limited. Smaller municipalities should instead place these close to the busiest roads in order to increase visibility and counteract range anxiety.

– Local authorities have an important role to play when it comes to driving the transition towards a more electrified car fleet. But if there is to be any significantly impact on new registration of electric vehicles, charging infrastructure planning must be based on the demographics of the municipality and its particular geographic constraints, says Magnus Hennlock.

The researchers also found that municipalities that procure electric cars for community services stimulate both private enterprise and local residents to purchase these vehicles themselves. This effect is greater in smaller municipalities. This is probably due to the fact that municipal-owned electric cars are highly visible and that there is a greater experience spill over in smaller municipalities. They also found that parking benefits for electric car owners had a positive effect, but that this was not consistently statistically significant.

– To sum up, local government investment in the charging infrastructure and a changeover to an electric vehicle fleet are important factors that lead to an increased adoption of electric vehicles by locally based companies and residents, says Magnus Hennlock.

See the Nordic Shift policy brief
Link to article in the Energy Policy journal

For more information, please contact:
Magnus Hennlock, magnus.hennlock@ivl.se, +46 (0)10-788 69 08