Bushnell, James, Muehlegger, Eric, and Rapson, David “Energy Prices and Electric Vehicle Adoption” (March 2022) | WP-326 | Blog

Abstract:
This paper presents evidence that gasoline prices have a larger effect on demand for electric vehicles (EVs) than electricity prices in California. We match a spatially-disaggregated panel dataset of monthly EV registration records to detailed records of gasoline and electricity prices in California from 2014 2017, and use these to estimate the effect of energy prices on EV demand. Two distinct empirical approaches (panel fixed-effects and a utility-border discontinuity) yield remarkably similar results: a given change in gasoline prices has roughly four to six times the effect on EV demand as a similar percentage change in electricity prices. We explore the implications for optimal EV subsidies, which promote externality reduction benefits and correct for consumer mis-optimization stemming from the undervaluation of future electricity costs.