DISCOURSES ABOUT DRIVING ELECTRIC VEHICLES - PROBLEMS AND
POTENTIALS AMONG TEST-DRIVERS
ABSTRACT
This paper considers household discourses about driving in electric vehicles. The research focuses on users’
perceptions of their everyday driving in electric vehicles and how the powerful discourses (and storytelling)
of users are determined by a persistent maintenance of constructions of everyday life.
The basic assumption underlining this paper is that everyday life is the foundation of change and
development of new technologies and new consumption patterns. New consumption patterns are crucial to
face the future challenge about including more renewable energy sources in the energy system. ‘Smart Grid’
is expected as the forthcoming technology to control and coordinate flexible consumption in order to
maintain balance between production and consumption in the overall electricity system. Thus, knowledge on
how this ‘peak-shaving’ technology influence on households everyday and vice versa is essential.
Electric vehicles are envisioned as a potential solution to peak-shave through flexible energy management in
households. Hence, both development of a competitive (electric vehicles-) technology and new consumption
practices are important in order to integrate more sustainable consumption patterns in the everyday life and
thereby pave the way for a sustainable transition.
Overall, the case-study demonstrates how test-drivers conceive ‘driving in electric vehicles’ by underpinning
the dominant discourses among test-pilots. The empirical material consists of both qualitative individual
interviews and focus group interviews with test-drivers participating in a huge Danish demonstration project
called ‘test-an-EV’. The empirical material covers test-driving experiences both during winter and summer
as well as among households living respectively in the country and in more urbanised areas. Moreover the
sample of test-drivers represents diversity on different socio-economic parameters.
The discourses among test-drivers will be linked to political and societal discourses conceiving electric
vehicles as the ‘solution’ to reduce CO2 emissions and to develop a sustainable energy system in the near
future. Furthermore, the discourses outlined by the mediators of the ‘test-an-EV’-project will be discussed.
The study contributes to a more complex understanding of the main threats and potentials of the technology
and creates knowledge on the main challenges in integrating the demanded peak-shaving technologies in the
everyday life of households.
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Discourses about driving electric vehicles – problems and potentials