Abstract for: Understanding Spatiotemporal Patterns of Hybrid-Electric Vehicle Adoption in the United States

Over 2 million hybrid-electric vehicles have been sold in the United States since their introduction over a decade ago. Diffusion is not uniform: sales are clustered in particular regions such as the West Coast, around Washington DC and north into New York and New England. Several theories seek to explain spatial clustering in social networks, including demographic homophily, social contagion and regional differences in marketing exposure. Here we explore the extent to which each of these theories explains the observed clusters in adoption patterns. We develop a formal model of spatial technology diffusion capturing the flow of information among regions through people’s social networks. The model is applied to the case of the diffusion of the Toyota Prius hybrid-electric vehicle in the United States. We discuss applications of the findings, including implications for the development of effective public policies for government agencies, effective marketing and distribution strategy for auto OEMs, and implications for the emerging market for electric vehicles and EV recharging infrastructure.