Socio-technical inertia: understanding the barriers to electric vehicles

Simone Steinhilber, Peter Wells, Samarthia Thankappan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


It is widely accepted that electrification of the transport sector is one of several technological trajectories that could redress some of the environmental issues associated with the growth in travel demand including climate change and oil demand at a global scale, and air quality and noise pollution at the urban scale. Electric vehicles have been considered a promising technology at repeated intervals over the last century, but this promise has not been realised. This paper is a contribution to understanding the key tools and strategies that might enable the successful introduction of new technologies and innovations by exploring the key barriers to electric vehicles encountered in two countries (UK and Germany) where the automobile industry has been historically significant. The study evaluates stakeholders’ opinions on relevant regulation, infrastructure investment, R&D incentives, and consumer incentives. The key findings of the research are that the introduction and penetration of EVs is confronted by several barriers that inhibit a larger market penetration under current conditions, which in turn casts doubt on the assumptions of strategic niche management and transitions theory
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)531-539
Number of pages9
JournalEnergy policy
Early online date27 May 2013
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2013

Bibliographical note

©2013 Elsevier Ltd.


  • Electric Vehicles
  • Transition Management
  • Socio-technical Systems

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