Energy-saving technologies have a difficult time being widely accepted and consumed in the marketplace when they have a high initial purchase price and deferred financial benefits. Consumers might not realize that, in the long run, the financial benefits from reduced energy consumption offset much or all of the initial price premium. One strategy to address consumer misconception of this advantage is to supply information on the “total cost of ownership,” a metric which accounts for the purchase price, the cost of the fuel, and other costs over the ownership period.
We investigate how providing information on five-year fuel cost savings and total cost of ownership affects the stated preferences of consumers to purchase a gasoline, hybrid, plug-in hybrid, or battery electric vehicles.
Through an online survey with an embedded experimental design using two distinct labels, we find that respondent rankings of vehicles are unaffected by information on five-year fuel cost savings only. However, adding information about total cost of ownership increases the probability that small, mid-sized car consumers express a preference to acquire a hybrid, plug-in hybrid, or a battery-electric vehicle. No such effect is found for consumers of small sport utility vehicles. Our results are consistent with other findings in similar behavioral economics investigations on this topic and suggest that further evaluation of the effects of providing consumers with information on the total cost of ownership is warranted.