Niche accumulation and standardization - The case of electric vehicle recharging plugs

Sjoerd Bakker, Pieter Leguijt, Harro Van Lente

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

    25 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    In the socio-technical transitions literature, local niche projects have been described as sources of knowledge, experience, actor networks, and (positive) expectations. Local niches and local designs can however also become stumbling blocks when local designs are non-compatible with an emerging global standard. In this paper we study the emergence of standards for electric vehicle recharging plugs to answer the question whether and how local niches and their outcomes may hamper the process of niche aggregation. Our analysis shows that distinct local recharging plug standards have emerged for both regular and fast charging. Especially the standards for regular charging are clearly designed to comply with local regime rules and that these rules have thus prevented the development of a global standard. With our analysis we show that the local context may indeed be so intrusive that it inscribes itself irreversibly in technical designs and standards and hence lead to local lock-ins that prevent further aggregation. Even more so, we recognize a tension between the need for local niche projects to comply with local rules and the need for the global niche to break free from such local rules in order to define universal designs instead.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)155-164
    Number of pages10
    JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
    Volume94
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2015

    Keywords

    • Electric vehicle
    • Socio-technical transition
    • Standardization
    • Strategic niche management

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