Publication Authors

Tao Ruan

Qin Lv

Public perception of electric vehicles on reddit over the past decade

Abstract:

Understanding public perception of electric vehicles (EVs) is imperative for increasing EV adoption, which can significantly reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, thereby mitigating climate change and global warming. While most existing research characterizes public perception of EV in the context of surveys, questionnaires, or interviews, our study leverages Reddit online social network (OSN) data to capture EV public perception at a much larger scale. We have collected 3,437,917 Reddit posts (including 274,979 submissions and 3,162,938 comments) between January 2011 and December 2020 relevant to EVs and analyzed them along several axes to understand how EVs are perceived by the public on Reddit through the following research questions: (1) What EV-related topics have been discussed by Reddit users? Whether/how Reddit users’ interest in different topics has changed during 2011–2020? (2) What sentiment do Reddit users hold towards EVs? Whether public sentiment on Reddit has shifted over the past 10 years? (3) Whether/how do various Reddit communities (i.e., subreddits) have different perceptions of EVs? Our analysis evinces the potential of utilizing a large-scale OSN dataset for demonstrating a much wider spectrum of topics that the public is interested in than previous studies show, reveals fringe communities including r/conspiracy have many (controversial) discussions on EVs, especially on the environmental impacts of EVs, and one political community (r/The_Donald) has similar patterns with fringe communities in both sentiment and topic aspects. By answering these research questions, we aim to develop a more comprehensive understanding of the public perception of EVs in the past decade.