Carnegie Mellon University
Forsythe_cmu_0041E_11045.pdf (17.19 MB)

Econometric Estimation of Consumer Responses to Personal Transportation Policies and Technologies

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posted on 2023-09-27, 16:07 authored by Connor ForsytheConnor Forsythe

Transportation is the largest contributing sector of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the United States (US). I present three works that focus on ways in which policy and technology may influence emissions and other external costs associated with the transportation sector. The first study investigates how car and SUV consumer demand for battery electric vehicles (BEVs) has changed over time. My co-authors and I find evidence that technology improvements over the past approximately ten years have led to the increased demand for personal car and SUV BEVs and could contribute greatly to future BEV demand. The second study focuses on pickup truck buyer preferences for BEVs. The associated analysis provides evidence that a sizable majority of truck buyers do not associate negative value with BEV powertrains, but approximately 20% of these consumers find electrified powertrains to significantly reduce a vehicle’s value. Still, evidence suggests that more than 50% of pickup buyers would adopt a BEV pickup with sufficient availability and technological improvement. The last study presented focuses on how policy impacts both personal vehicle fleet size and usage. Using the staggered removal of state safety inspections as an instrument for fleet size, weak-instrument robust estimates suggest that both travel and gas use grow with fleet size but at a ratio lower than 1:1 in the context of safety inspections. This finding can have major implications for a wide range of transportation-related policies. In sum, these three works contribute to the literature by identifying novel estimates of consumer preferences for BEVs over time for car and SUV buyers, the first estimate of pickup truck buyer preferences for electric vehicles, and the first empirical measure of the relationship between fleet size and fleet utilization whenever fleet size is impacted by policy. These three studies shed light on both the future of BEVs in personal transportation as well as how policies might influence the adoption of BEVs and potential implications for GHG emissions and other externalities. 




Degree Type

  • Dissertation


  • Mechanical Engineering

Degree Name

  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Jeremy Michalek, Kate Whitefoot

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