A new study showed that peer pressure can have positive effects on the planet, as people are more likely to drive electric vehicles if their neighbors also drive them.
Across six of the 11 cities, rates of EV ownership were above the national average. The Philadelphia DMA, for example, saw a 426% EV growth rate between 2018 and 2022, while the Charlotte DMA saw an expansion of 476%, compared to a national average of 328% in the same time frame.
Based on “geographic patterns for EV ownership” within the DMAs, the study’s researchers concluded that peer influence is a significant factor in the rising number of EV purchases.
New York City exhibited the strongest example of this peer pressure, dubbed the “neighborhood effect,” as the researchers were able to narrow the study down to specific ZIP codes that showed disproportionate EV registration growth.
The study concluded with several policy suggestions that could help expand EV adoption. Increased word of mouth about EV incentives, greater opportunities for interaction with EVs, and bundling EVs with other clean energy practices could all catalyze further EV growth.
The study’s authors also conducted interviews with EV drivers, who spoke on the power of social influence.
“I recognize the power of influencing other friends and family. Neighbors have asked me about my new EV, and I share information with work colleagues,” Chris Jewell, an EV driver from Arlington, Virginia, said for the study.
“There is no question that [our neighbors] definitely put us on the path to full electrification with the introduction to hybrid vehicles,” said Charles and Beth Huber from Westminster, Maryland.
“Gas mileage is the top thing that gets people to listen — it’s eye opening,” said Pamela Jacobson Bowhers from Virginia Beach, Virginia. In a statement for the study, she and her partner said, “[Our EV is] a modern vehicle with a lot of bells and whistles, low maintenance, and practically drives itself.”
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