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A Survey on Users Perceptions of Electric Vehicles for Mobility in a Malaysian University

Universiti Teknikal Malaysia Melaka


Hang Tuah Jaya, Durian Tunggal 76100 Melaka, Malaysia

Abstract In line with the increased awareness of green environment and efficient
use of energy, there is a need to find an alternative for the use of conventional
vehicles for mobility within university. In this respect, a university in Malaysia has
initiated a project that investigates Electric Vehicles (EV) as a possible means to
deliver green vehicles for mobility system solutions. Subsequently, a survey on
users perception of the electric vehicles has been conducted at the university to
ensure the success of the project development. Specifically, the survey focused on
four aspects related to the usage of the electric vehicles, namely safety, rechargeable
method, speed limitation and return of investment. The pattern of users
perceptions based on the levels of education and employment status were also
investigated. A total of 482 staff and students from the university responded to
either the online or offline questionnaire. The data were analyzed statistically using
open source software, i.e. RStudio. We found that users exert their highest interest
in electric vehicle that does stop recharging during its operation in comparison to
their interest in electric vehicle safety, speed limitation and concern in return on
investment. Furthermore, it was found that there is a strong relationship between
the level of education and both the speed limitation and concern in return on
investment. The finding of the study provides valuable insights for early perceptions
in developing and adopting electric vehicle for mobility in a university.
Keywords
relationship

Electric

vehicle,

transportation,

survey, user

perception,

I. INTRODUCTION
In line with the increased awareness of green environment and efficient use of
energy, there is a need to find an alternative for the use of conventional vehicles for
mobility. There has been a worldwide agreement that electric vehicles can replace
the use of conventional vehicles. Many scholars, namely [1][2][3][4] have claimed
that the use of electric vehicles can address the environmental issues associated
with climate change and air quality, high dependency on oil supply, growth in travel
demand. It also has the potential to make the transport system more sustainable [5].
However, these benefits will not be realized if users do not want to use the new
technology.

Moving towards achieving a low carbon economy, Malaysia has taken the
initiative to develop an infrastructure roadmap for the use of electric vehicles in
Malaysia. In relation to this, the National Electric Mobility Blueprint has been
recently launched [6]. The blue print aims to position Malaysia as the electric
mobility marketplace. The first aim is to fast-track Malaysias transformation into a
global electric marketplace and the second aim is to propel Malaysia forward in
both sustainable practices as well as economic development. While the use of
electric vehicles is well supported with government policies, many have reported
the slow uptake of electric vehicles by the public [1][2][3][4][5]. Sang and Bekhet
[1] argued that the public acceptance and diffusion of the electric vehicles is
relatively new and unknown in Malaysia although it is considered as a solution to
replace the conventional transportation.
Consistent with the initiatives of the Malaysian government to encourage the use
of electric vehicles, the researchers have initiated a project to implement the use
electric vehicles for short distance mobility within the university. The university has
several faculties which are quite distance from each other. At present, the university
is using conventional bus transportation as the means of short distance mobility
within the university community. Thus, this paper aims to report a survey study
that investigates user acceptance of the use of electric vehicles at the university.
This survey is necessary as the acceptance of users is an important prerequisite to
determine the usability and practicality of a successful implementation.
II. RELATED STUDY
Electric vehicles are high technology innovation and involved high cost investment.
As such, it is crucial to investigate its acceptance for its successful implementation.
The potential of electric vehicles has been studied from its technical, economic and
environmental point of view [4]. Further, much of the studies related to electric
vehicles are contextualized within the advanced automotive industry such as the
UK, Germany and the USA. However, there have been very limited studies of
electric vehicles in Malaysia.
A study conducted by Sang and Bekhet [1] determines the key predictors
affecting the use of electric vehicles acceptance in Malaysia. An empirical data were
collected using a survey questionnaire distributed to 1000 private vehicle drivers in
Malaysia. The results demonstrated that electric vehicle acceptance in Malaysia can
be explained as being significantly related to social influences, performance
attributes, financial benefits, environment concerns, demographics, infrastructure
readiness and government interventions.
Aiming to predict the potential buyers of electric vehicles, Plotz et al. [2]
investigated the characteristics of people who use electric vehicles. Referring them
as the early adopters, they found that the most likely group of private electric
vehicles buyers in Germany are middle-aged men with technical professions living
in rural or suburban multi-person households. Further, higher socio-economic
status allows them to purchase electric vehicles. They also found that inhabitants of
major cities are less likely to buy electric vehicles since they form a small group of
car owners.
Focusing on identifying the potential buyers of electric cars, [3] administered a
survey to 1000 US residents to understand factors influencing the potential for the
market penetration of Plug-in hybrid electric cars. They found that the financial and

battery-related concerns remain major obstacles to widespread PHEV market


penetration.
To gain understanding of the key tools and strategies that might enable the
successful introduction of new technologies and innovation, Steinhilber et al. [7]
explored the key barriers to electric vehicles encountered by two countries (the 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. Several barriers that inhibit a
larger market penetration were identified.
To understand the relationship between knowledge and attitudes which is related
to the user acceptance of electric vehicles, Tarigan et al. [8] conducted a survey
with 1000 electric vehicle users in Germany. The study found that age, education
duration and gender influence the possibility to accept electric vehicles. The study
also indicated that the higher the knowledge of sustainable environment, the higher
the attitude to support electric vehicles.
Wu et al. [9] investigated customers perceptions that electric vehicles are more
expensive than the conventional cars due to the higher capital cost. Focusing on the
total cost of ownership to evaluate the complete cost for customers on individual
vehicle classes. The study found that comparative cost efficiency of electric cars
increases with the consumers driving distance. Further, they argued that total cost
of ownership does not reflect how consumers make their purchasing decision for
electric cars. They suggested for a further investigation of the improvement of
charging infrastructure and decreased battery cost.
Ziefle et al. [4] aimed to identify influencing factors on acceptance of electric
vehicles. Using questionnaire survey, they found that the conventional car is
perceived still much more comfortable and receives a high trustfulness in
comparison to electric cars. They argues that age and gender differences seem to
give different opinions. Female users but also aged persons show a higher level of
acceptance, which might due to their higher environmental consciousness in
contrast to male person and younger participants. Further, different domain
knowledge did not show a large influence on the level of acceptance.
Most of the studies related to user acceptance tend to focus on users of electric
vehicles in the established electric vehicles such as the UK, the USA and Germany.
There has been only one study found to investigate the acceptance of users of
electric vehicles in Malaysia. Perhaps this is due to the relatively new introduction
of electric vehicles in Malaysia. Further, most of these studies tend to focus on the
use of electric car for the purchase of the users. So far, studies of the use of electric
vehicles for short distance mobility within a university compound are non-existence.
However, the studies discussed above can be used as reference to investigate the
users acceptance of electric vehicles in a university. Considering the high cost
investment in the adoption of electric vehicles, it is necessary to identify user
acceptance of electric vehicles to ensure that the project is successfully
implemented.
III. SURVEY PROCEDURE

We have conducted a survey to investigate the users perceptions towards the


usage of electric vehicle in university. To do this we Universiti Teknikal Malaysia
Melaka (UTeM) has been choosen as a sample study. In order to derive the result of
the survey, we have adopted the data science process [10] as shown in Figure 1:

Figure 1: Data Analysis Process


A. Sampling
The sampling frame of this study is among the UTeMs main campus community,
who has responded to the survey conducted in both online and offline
questionnaires. The targeted population are students, staffs that inclusive of
administration, academic and university higher management. The population covers
both gender almost evenly, age ranges from 17 to more than 60 years old with
different education levels.
The respondents are in total of 482 staffs and students. They have provided
different views regarding the needs of having electric vehicles as a transportation in
the campus. It is found that the purpose and the frequency of commuting in the
campus are varied based on the employment status; either academic staff,
administration staff or students. Besides, the ordinary practice of using own
vehicles to commute in the campus may give different perspectives especially
among staff members to share electric vehicles in the future.
B. Data

pre-processing

The received data through online and offline are recognise as raw data as the data is
still fresh and not being analysed. Therefore, the data pre-processing plays
important role to process and recode the received data for better data analysis. It
also involves a complex data clean process to deal the missing data and answers
from the open-ended questions.

The Analysis
The analysis were divided into two sections. The first section is an exploratory
analysis that captured the respondents demographic information and the second
section captured respondents preferences and the respondents perceptions.
1) Respondents Demographic Information
The respondents demographic information focuses on determining the
range of respondents through three factors. The first factor is based on age
followed by gender to understand if male or female has differing preferences
to commute by EV in the campus. The third factor is employment status to
recognize if the employment status influences the willingness of the campus
community to commute by EV.
C.

2) Respondents Preferences and Perceptions


The respondents preferences information is captured mainly on the campus
community willingness to commute by EV if the facility is available in the
campus. The follow up questions were to further understand the preference
type of EV tha they will ride, the destinations to go and the preferred
regularity of the EV traveling between destination points in the campus. In
addition, users perception other questions were also asked; if the
respondents think that the EV is safer compared to the normal cars, if
recharge and speed are the issues and if EV is good for return on investment.
Describing Data
In this phase, visualization from the analysis was used for describing data in order
to display information and gain the knowledge. There are many various graphic
tools for displaying information. This study uses the series of graphic tools from
ggplot2 package in RStudio to generate versatile graphs to show the way data is
distributed, the frequency of the variables and possible relationship between
variables
D.

IV. RESULTS
This section presents the results of the conducted analysis.
A. Demographic
Table I shows the demographic variable of the respondent surveyed. Most of
them are aged between 17-34 with 82.3% followed by aged between 35-52
(15.2%) and above aged 53 years (12.5%). This demographic also presents
approximately equal proportion in respondents gender. The majority of
respondents are student with 72.5% and staff with only 27.5%.
Table I. Demographic profile of respondents
Percentage

Age
17-34
35-52
53 +

82.3
15.2
2.5

Gender
Female
Male

48.2
51.8

Employment Status
Staffs
Students

27.5
72.5

From this demographic information in Table 1. there are two demographic variables
have been identified as the condition factors i.e. Gender and Employment Status.
The condition factors are used to investigate a relationship with the user perception
variables on EVs technology.
B. Respondents Preference
The analysis recodes the EV Destination according to the number of places.
Although respondents were allowed to suggest the location, the preferrence was
EVs should be able to travel more than one destination point as shown in Table II.
Therefore, it can be concluded that most of the respondents would like the EV that
could navigate more than one places in the university area.

Table II. EV Destination point number(s)


EV Destination
1
>1

Percentage
10.2
89.8

Meanwhile Figure 2 shows that nearly half of respondents choose and suggest that
EV should be travelled back in the same point in less than 1 hour.

Figure 2. Travel Time Preference


Next, Figure 3 illustrates that the respondents preference type of electrical vehicle
in the university. It shows that most of the respondents prefer to use tram with
61.9%, followed by buggy with 35.9% and minority of 2.2% with other type of
EVs.

Figure 3. Preferred type of EV


Figure 4 reveals the frequencies of respondents on the observed users perception
on some characteristics of an EV such as safety, recharge capability, speed
limitation and return on investment. In good practice, it is ideal to investigate the
understanding of university members on the characteristics of EVs.

Figure 4. Users Perception


Chi Square
This study also investigates the influence of the observed factors i.e Gender and
Employment Status on the users perception variables. Table III shows the
relationship of user perception with gender and employment status.
C.

Table III. Chi Square Test


Gender
Safer

Chi^2

7.52508

Employment
Status
6.96907

Recharge

d.f.
p
Chi^2

2
0.02322
4.47585

2
0.03067
2.73247

Speed Limit

d.f.
p
Chi^2

1
0.034377
1.62209

1
0.09832
4.06950

ROI

d.f.
p
Chi^2

1
0.000651
10.88549

1
0.04366
0.69863

d.f.
p

2
0.00433

2
0.70517

The results in Table III shows the Pearson Chi-Square which indicates that there is
no significant relationship between employment status with the preference if the EV
dont ever stop for recharging and the perception if the electric cars is a good return
on investment. As shown in Tables III, the result of Pearson Chi-Square indicates
that there is a significant relationship between employment status with the
perception whether the EV are safer than the normal cars (2)=6.9691, p<0.05 and
the perception whether the speed is the major limitation in EV (1)=4.0695,
p<0.05. Moreover there is a significant relationship between gender with the

perception whether the EV are safer than the normal cars (2)=7.5251, p<0.05, the
preference if the EV wont ever stop for recharging (1)=4.4759, p<0.05, the
perception whether the speed is the major limitation in EV (1)=1.6621, p<0.05
and the perception whether the EV is a good return on investment (2)=10.8855,
p<0.05.

Figure 5. Users Perception


Figure 5 and 6 show the mosaic plot which is a graphic tool in RStudio to show the
data distribution based on the relationship between variables. Interestingly, Figure 4
reveals that majority of the staffs feel that the EVs are safer than the normal cars
compare to students. However, the result shows that universitys staffs significantly
not aware about the safety of EV compare to normal cars. Figure 5 also reveals for
perception whether the speed is the major limitation. Most of the students believe
that the speed is the major limitation in EV. Besides, this mosaic plot also shows
that there is a significant same proportion that staffs believe and doubt the speed as
a major limitation in EV.
Comparing between gender and the users perception, Figure 6 shows a
difference analysis emerges. It has shown that gender somehow show significant
proportion on some expectations for each observed perception variable. From
Figure 6, it shows that there is significant proportion that both female and male
respondents do not know whether the EVs are safer than the normal car. Even
though, most of both female and male respondents acknowledge that the EVs will
ever stop for recharging, but it not significant. When respondents were asked about
the speed as major limitation of the EVs, female university members significantly
believe that speed is the major limitation in EV compare to male members. Again,
there is significant proposition that both female and male university members do not
know that electrical cars are a good return on investment.

Figure 6. Users Perception


Conclusion
As the implementation of EV is complex and high cost, it is necessary to conduct a
holistic data analysis on user preferences and perception on the technology. This
study employs the process of data science to derive the information and gain
knowledge on the perception of university members towards the implementation of
EV within the university. The findings from data analysis lead to the preferences of
the EV types in the university. Moreover, the study also confirms the preference of
sequential route of EVs to accommodate the needs of university members to travel
many destination nodes. In addition, the findings also recommend that there are still
much efforts required to educate university members on the EV technology. The
findings also provide original new knowledge through statistical analysis to help the
manufacturer on the development of EVs that can be implemented and accepted by
the universitys community. Thus, this initial study somehow indirectly potray the
relevancy of EVs for the education industry as well as supporting the governments
aim in empowering green technology for better living.
In future, we would like to study further the acceptance of Evs in other university
of Malaysia and finally developed a sustainable model or guideline that could be
used by the manufacturers to promote Evs in the education industry.

ACKNOWLEDGMENT
The authors would like to acknowledge Faculty of Information and
Communication Technology, Universiti Teknikal Malaysia Melaka for contribution
to this study.

[1]
[2]
[3]

[4]

[5]
[6]
[7]
[8]
[9]
[10]

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