Consumer Preferences for Alternative Powertrain in Construction Equipment - A Discrete Choice Analysis
Abstract: Increased focus on sustainability and climate change has made reduction in CO2 emissions a priority across all industries. The construction equipment (CE) industry sees alternate powertrain technologies like battery electric and hydrogen fuel-cells as the solution to the climate problem and has therefore started investing in this domain. However, with their niche application, the demand on construction equipment is unique and this indicates that it is important to understand the customer preferences when introducing new technologies in this market. This presents the research question answered in thisthesis - do customers prefer non-fossil based alternate powertrain in construction equipment?. In order to answer this question, extensive literature review is carried out and parallelsare drawn with passenger vehicle and commercial truck industry. Based on previous workin this area, the first step is to calculate the total cost of ownership of the four different alternatives - diesel, bio-diesel, battery electric and fuel-cell electric. This information is then used to establish a discrete choice experiment, which is designed to gauge thes tated preference of the customers. A survey was conducted to this effect, where CE customers were provided with multiple choice scenarios and asked to choose between fouralternatives, differentiated by varying attributes such as total investment cost, total variablecost, operation range, refill duration and technology maturity. The survey responsewas then used to build a random utility model using logistical models like MultinomialLogit, Mixed Logit and Nested Logit. The utility coefficients were estimated in these three models and compared against each other and the most significant attributes were identified. Out of 54 respondents, even though majority 62% preferred a conventional diesel machine in the stated preference choices, an overwhelming 38% had opted for the sustainable alternatives which was more than expected, specially since such machines are not available in the mainstream market. The mixed multinomial logit model showed the best fit among the model alternatives tested and attributes like fixed cost, variable cost and market share showed statistical significance with this model. The results indicate that the market preferenceis still in favour of diesel machinery but the perception towards sustainable poweredmachinery looks positive and better than expected. Original Equipment Manufacturers(OEMs) need to target smaller fleet owners for adoption of sustainable alternatives like Battery Electric and Fuel Cell electric machines. Even though Sustainable powered machines show a lot of promise, they are still not competitive in terms of cost as the discrete choice analysis shows that variable cost significantly influence purchase decision.
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