The transition from conventional vehicles (CVs) to electric vehicles (EVs) could be promising in tackling environmental challenges in China. Using a sample of 1216 respondents in Beijing, China, our study intends to understand the underlying factors that drive the decision to purchase an EV among potential Chinese vehicle purchasers. We built two choice models to estimate vehicle purchase behavior and fuel choice. We found that males and having higher household income are associated with greater intention to purchase EVs (both plug-in and battery electric vehicles). However, a previous inclination to choose CV negatively impacted willingness to buy EVs. Between specific EV types, we found that Plug-in Hybrid EV (PHEV) purchase was negatively associated with plans to obtain a driver’s license within three years and longer durations of having owned a motorized vehicle first. Yet, the number of electric bicycles in the household was positively associated with PHEV-purchase likelihood. For Battery EVs (BEV), we found that respondents who had previous experience with an EV (either as a driver or passenger) were more likely to purchase a BEV while existing ownership of a driver’s license and a higher purchase budget reduced such possibility. Based on our findings, we recommend authorities continue to, or increasingly, provide direct monetary incentives to purchase EVs, and to provide EV driving and riding experience to customers, especially who are in the middle- and low-income vehicle purchasing groups, to improve the Chinese EV market relative to CVs.
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