Burgeoning demands for mobility and private vehicle ownership undermine global efforts to reduce energy-related greenhouse gas emissions. Advanced vehicles powered by low-carbon sources of electricity or hydrogen offer an alternative to conventional fossil-fuelled technologies. Yet, despite ambitious pledges and investments by governments and automakers, it is by no means clear that these vehicles will ultimately reach mass-market consumers. Here, we develop state-of-the-art representations of consumer preferences in multiple, global energy- economy models, specifically focusing on the non-financial preferences of individuals. We employ these enhanced model formulations to analyse the potential for a low-carbon vehicle revolution up to mid-century. Our analysis shows that a diverse set of measures targeting vehicle buyers is necessary for driving widespread adoption of clean technologies. Carbon pricing alone is insufficient for bringing low-carbon vehicles to mass market, though it can certainly play a supporting role in ensuring a decarbonised energy supply.