Patterns and predictors of early electric vehicle adoption in Massachusetts

Steven R. Gehrke, Timothy G. Reardon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


In Massachusetts and beyond, ambitious long-term initiatives seek to curtail increases in carbon pollution that contribute to climate change and carry detrimental impacts to population health and safety. Widespread electrification of the passenger vehicle fleet is celebrated as a fundamental strategy for achieving substantial long-term transportation-related greenhouse gas reductions. Unfortunately, in spite of this understood need, the number of EVs on our roadways remains relatively insignificant and the evidence base remains limited in its ability to inform decisionmakers as to what set of factors related to an individual, their surrounding context, or the new technology itself will contribute most to increasing passenger EV adoption. This study utilizes a unique data set enumerating passenger vehicle purchases and utilization in Massachusetts from 2008 to 2016 to (i) describe geographic and temporal patterns of EV adoption and (ii) identify the environmental factors that have predicted the purchase and utilization of EVs by these early adopters. Our study finds that early EV adoption in Massachusetts has largely been an urban phenomenon displaying a gradual and incremental increase in the consumer market share. At a neighborhood scale, early EV adoption in Massachusetts has been limited primarily to higher-income households residing in single-family homes. However, if policy actions follow, the significant association of public charging stations with EV adoption and other informative study findings can carry the potential to direct investments and incentives to ensure the Commonwealth’s lofty legislatively-mandated targets are met in coming years.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)514-525
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Sustainable Transportation
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2022


  • Electric vehicles
  • propensity score matching
  • vehicle ownership

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Automotive Engineering
  • Transportation


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