Factors Affecting the Adoption of Electric Vehicles by PSV Operators in Kenya

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By Paul Mani and Ben Maina

Educational Programs and Training Can Improve Understanding and Promote the Benefits of Electric Vehicles

This research investigates the factors influencing the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) among public service vehicle operators in Kenya. The study employs a descriptive survey design, encompassing 212 public vehicle operators in the country. The primary objectives include assessing the impact of cost, infrastructure development, knowledge, and social-cultural factors on adopting EVs by public service vehicle operators in Kenya. The study conducted in-depth interviews and focus group discussions with a selected subset of participants to gain deeper insights into the qualitative aspects of the study. The study reveals that cost, infrastructure development, knowledge, and social-cultural factors collectively influence the adoption landscape. High upfront costs and operational expenses pose significant barriers, emphasizing the need for financial incentives and supportive policies to make EVs more economically viable. Infrastructure development, particularly the establishment of a robust charging network, is crucial to alleviate range anxiety and enhance the practicality of EVs. Knowledge gaps among operators highlight the importance of educational programs and training initiatives to improve understanding and promote the benefits of electric vehicles. Social-cultural factors, such as attitudes and perceptions, also shape adoption patterns, emphasizing the need for awareness campaigns to address misconceptions. In conclusion, a comprehensive strategy involving financial incentives, infrastructure development, knowledge dissemination, and cultural sensitization is recommended to foster the widespread adoption of electric vehicles in Kenya’s public service transportation sector.

Keywords: Electric vehicles, cost, infrastructure development, knowledge, and social-cultural factors.

1. Introduction

Globally, the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) is experiencing significant growth and momentum. Governments, private companies, and individuals are increasingly recognizing the environmental, economic, and technological benefits of EVs, leading to a surge in their adoption (Amedokpo & Boutueil, 2023). Many countries have implemented ambitious targets and policies to promote the transition to electric mobility, including incentives such as financial subsidies, tax exemptions, and investments in charging infrastructure. Automakers are also expanding their electric vehicle offerings, with a growing number of models available to consumers (Van den bergh, Weekx, De Cauwer & Vanhaverbeke, 2023). This expansion, coupled with advancements in battery technology, has resulted in improved vehicle range and performance, addressing concerns about range anxiety, and charging time. Furthermore, the increasing focus on sustainability and the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions have propelled EV adoption as a key strategy to mitigate climate change. The global electric vehicle market is witnessing rapid growth, with rising consumer demand, technological advancements, and supportive policies driving the transition towards a cleaner and more sustainable transportation future (Krishnan & Koshy, 2021).

Kenya has shown commendable progress in the adoption of electric vehicles in recent years. The country has taken significant steps to promote the use of EVs to address environmental concerns, reduce dependence on fossil fuels, and foster sustainable transportation. The Kenyan government has implemented various policy measures and initiatives to incentivize EV adoption, including tax incentives, import duty exemptions, and lower registration fees for electric vehicles. Additionally, Kenya has made strides in developing its charging infrastructure, with the installation of public and private charging stations in major urban centers. Several local and international companies have also introduced electric vehicles into the Kenyan market, particularly in the public transportation sector (Longe, 2022). However, challenges such as high upfront costs, limited charging infrastructure in rural areas, and range anxiety still need to be addressed to further accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles across the country (Odhiambo et al., 2021).

Public service vehicle operators in Kenya play a critical role in providing transportation services to the public, contributing to the socio-economic development of the country (Mwanzia, 2023). However, the transportation sector is facing numerous challenges, including environmental pollution, and rising fuel costs. Electric vehicles (EVs) present a promising solution to these challenges, offering lower operating costs, reduced emissions, and the potential to enhance sustainability. Despite the potential benefits, public service vehicle operators in Kenya are facing significant obstacles in adopting electric vehicles. 

2. Research Methodology

A descriptive survey design was adopted. The target population included 212 public vehicle operators in Kenya.  A census was conducted on all the 212 public vehicle operators in Kenya. The study conducted in-depth interviews and focus group discussions with a selected subset of participants (representative sample) to gain deeper insights into the qualitative aspects of the study. 

3. Research Findings and Discussions

In-depth interviews and focus group discussions revealed that the primary concern for public service vehicle operators in Kenya regarding electric vehicle adoption is the initial cost. Participants emphasized the need for financial incentives, subsidies, or favourable financing options to mitigate the high upfront expenses associated with acquiring electric vehicles. Discussions underscored a general awareness of potential long-term cost savings in terms of reduced fuel and maintenance expenses, but the immediate financial burden emerged as a significant barrier to widespread adoption.

Participants consistently highlighted the crucial role of infrastructure development in influencing the adoption of electric vehicles. Challenges related to the availability and accessibility of charging stations were identified as major impediments. The findings underscored the importance of a well-established charging infrastructure network to alleviate range anxiety and enhance the feasibility of electric vehicles for public service operations. The discussions emphasized the need for collaborative efforts between the government and private sector stakeholders to expedite the development of charging infrastructure across urban and rural areas.

Interviews and focus group discussions revealed varying levels of knowledge and awareness among public service vehicle operators regarding electric vehicles. While some operators exhibited a keen understanding of the environmental benefits and technological advancements, others lacked comprehensive knowledge. The findings suggested that targeted educational programs and training initiatives could play a pivotal role in enhancing awareness and knowledge, thereby positively influencing the perception and acceptance of electric vehicles within the industry.

The qualitative data indicated that social-cultural factors significantly influence the willingness of public service vehicle operators to adopt electric vehicles. Concerns related to customer acceptance, perceptions of EVs as status symbols, and the cultural significance of traditional vehicles emerged as key considerations. Discussions emphasized the importance of public awareness campaigns to address misconceptions and promote a positive societal attitude towards electric vehicles.

4. Conclusion

In conclusion, the research findings underscore the multifaceted nature of factors influencing the adoption of electric vehicles by public service operators in Kenya. The study reveals that cost remains a critical determinant, with operators expressing concerns about the initial investment and operational expenses associated with electric vehicles. Infrastructure development emerges as a pivotal factor, emphasizing the need for a robust charging network to alleviate range anxiety and enhance the practicality of electric vehicles in the Kenyan context. Knowledge gaps among operators regarding EV technology and its benefits are identified, suggesting the importance of targeted educational initiatives. Social-cultural factors, including attitudes and perceptions, also play a role in shaping adoption patterns. The study recommends a comprehensive approach that addresses cost concerns, accelerates infrastructure development, fosters knowledge dissemination, and engages in cultural sensitization to create an enabling environment for the widespread adoption of electric vehicles in Kenya’s public service transportation sector.

5. Recommendations

Based on these findings, the study recommends a multifaceted approach to promote electric vehicle adoption. This includes the introduction of targeted financial incentives, collaborative efforts for charging infrastructure development, comprehensive educational programs, and strategic communication campaigns aimed at reshaping societal attitudes. Policymakers and industry stakeholders are encouraged to work together to address these multifaceted challenges and create an environment conducive to the widespread adoption of electric vehicles in the Kenyan public service transportation sector. 

References

Amedokpo, Y. T., & Boutueil, V. (2023). What place for electric vehicles as a research object and a practical alternative to internal combustion engine vehicles in Africa? toward a research agenda based on a systematic literature review and a census of electromobility projects. Transportation Research Record2677(3), 639-651.

Krishnan, V. V., & Koshy, B. I. (2021). Evaluating the factors influencing purchase intention of electric vehicles in households owning conventional vehicles. Case Studies on Transport Policy9(3), 1122-1129.

Longe, O. M. (2022). An expository comparison of electric vehicles and internal combustion engine vehicles in Africa-motivations, challenges and adoption strategies. In 2022 IEEE PES/IAS PowerAfrica (pp. 1-5). IEEE.

Mwanzia, M. (2023). The Matatu Industry in Nairobi. In The Palgrave Handbook of Contemporary Kenya (pp. 87-95). Cham: Springer International Publishing. 

Odhiambo, E., Kipkoech, D., Hegazy, M. M., Manuel, M., Schalekamp, H., & Abdelrahman, H. (2021). The potential for minibus electrification in three African cities: Cairo, Kenya, and Cape Town. Volvo Research and Educational Foundations.

Van den bergh, O., Weekx, S., De Cauwer, C., & Vanhaverbeke, L. (2023). Locating charging infrastructure for shared autonomous electric vehicles and for vehicle-to-grid strategy: a systematic review and research agenda from an energy and mobility perspective. World Electric Vehicle Journal14(3), 56.

P. Mani: PhD Candidate, Department of Finance and Accounting, Faculty of Business and Management Science, University of Nairobi, Kenya (email: [email protected])

B. Maina: PhD Candidate, Department of Finance and Accounting, Faculty of Business and Management Science, University of Nairobi, Kenya. email: [email protected]) and [email protected]

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