A socio-technical perspective on the electrification of the automobile: Niche and regime interaction

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    This paper offers a socio-technical perspective on how the introduction of various alternatives to the internal combustion engine, especially the full-electric vehicle, influences the established propulsion technology (ICE). This perspective helps to move beyond the well-known incremental vs. radical innovation dichotomy - usually referring to product innovation- and maps out the socio-technical dimension of market evolution. We offer a conceptual contribution by proposing a hypothesis for how a disruptive innovation, depicted as socio-technical niche, interacts with the established technology, the socio-technical regime (i.e., what it will do to the regime). We offer a preliminary discussion of this niche interaction hypothesis for the current momentum of the full-electric vehicle. We find various types of niche interactions between alternative engine technologies over the last 20 years, some competitive and some symbiotic in character, in the context of a significant 'sailing ship effect' around internal combustion technology.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)158-171
    Number of pages14
    JournalInternational Journal of Automotive Technology and Management
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


    • Automotive industry
    • Commerce
    • Electric utilities
    • Electric vehicles
    • Engines
    • Internal combustion engines
    • Ships
    • Technology

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