Paths to the adoption of electric vehicles: An evolutionary game theoretical approach

Sara Encarnação, Fernando P. Santos, Francisco C. Santos, Vered Blass*, Jorge M. Pacheco, Juval Portugali

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


Electric vehicles (EVs) are a viable alternative to internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, with the potential to alleviate the negative externalities stemming from the present ICE-based transportation sector. Notwithstanding, the current prevalence of ICE creates a lock-in state that averts the adoption of alternative and environmental friendly technologies, bringing forth a social dilemma. Here we investigate the feasibility of escaping the present lock-in state by studying possible incentive mechanisms involving, simultaneously, governments (public), companies (private) and consumers (civil). Resorting to evolutionary game theory (EGT), we develop a theoretical model grounded on the strategic interactions between players from the different sectors, whose co-evolving choices influence (and are influenced by) different policies and social incentives. Our findings suggest that i) public regulation is necessary but not sufficient for guaranteeing full EV adoption; ii) public-civil synergies are essential; iii) demand for EVs preceding supply is most efficient, providing companies with the needed incentives to counterweigh infrastructure investments; and iv) full adoption of EVs requires coordination between the three sectors to emerge, particularly when changes are initiated by the public sector.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24-33
Number of pages10
JournalTransportation Research Part B: Methodological
StatePublished - Jul 2018


FundersFunder number
Israeli Ministry of Energy and Water212-11-012
Fundação para a Ciência e a TecnologiaPTDC/EEI-SII/5081/2014, PTDC/MAT/STA/3358/2014, SFRH/BPD/1169337/2016, SFRH/BD/94736/2013
Instituto Nacional de Ciência e Tecnologia para Excitotoxicidade e Neuroproteção
Centro Interdisciplinar de Ciências SociaisUID/SOC/04647/2013, UID/BIA/04050/2013, UID/CEC/50021/2013


    • Diffusion
    • Electric vehicles
    • Evolutionary dynamics
    • Game theory
    • Policy


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