The widespread use of electric vehicles is still in its infancy.
For consumers, the high acquisition costs and the current range an electric car can current travel are the top handicaps. However, with regard to growing urbanization in the world, with the emergence of megacities as Sao Paolo, Tokyo, Mumbai, and Shanghai, electric mobility is the future.
From a consumer perspective, there are many arguments in favor of electric cars:
- Electricity is not as taxed as heavily as gasoline or diesel, and “fueling” is far more favorable.
- Electric mobility is free of emissions, which is good for our environmental conscience.
- It provides also a high level of agility, since e-vehicles can already offer the maximum amount of torque at the initial movement, and they can accelerate without losing any interruption of tractive power.
Consumer opinion on electric mobility has gone through an interesting development since it was introduced. According to a study we conducted in 2006, from a consumer perspective at that time the powertrain technologies best equipped for the future were still the hybrid engine, fuel cells, and fuel from renewable raw materials and natural gas. The electric motor, however, was hardly mentioned. By 2011, more than 50% of consumers believed that in the near future the majority of the new car purchases will feature alternative powertrain technologies. The hybrid engine was still the top technology, followed though by the electric motor. Natural gas and fuel cells, however, no longer play a major role for consumers, and fuel from renewable raw materials has disappeared altogether.
“Consumer opinion on electric mobility has gone through an interesting development since it was introduced.”
And now the dream of attaining “zero emissions” has emerged. Forecasts show that e-mobility will have a global market share of three to five percent as early as 2020.
The German government aims to have 1 million electric vehicles on Germany’s roads by 2020. With this goal in mind, the German Federal Ministry of the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety introduced a government program on electric mobility in May 2011.
Among other things, this program provides incentives for electric mobility:
- Increased funding for research and development of one billion euros by 2013,
- Vehicle tax exemption for ten years for vehicles with CO2 emissions of less than 50g/km if purchased before December 31, 2015,
- Adapting the company car tax with the aim of eliminating the existing fiscal competitive disadvantages of electric vehicles compared to conventional automobiles as company cars,
- Special parking areas as well as easing access restrictions
- Shared use of bus lanes,
- Introducing a system for labelling environmentally-friendly electric cars within the scope of the 40th Federal Emissions Protection Regulation (“blue sticker”).
Electric cars will only really be successful once their price drops to a level that corresponds to fossil-fuel-powered vehicles.
The basis for technologies in energy storage and network infrastructure have been developed, but there is still a significant need for more research, optimization, and networking, particularly in the development of battery storage technology.
International market research and e-mobility:
Employees of Spiegel Institut Mannheim are participating in the research project organized by the German Federal Ministry of the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety in the project “Controlled Charging V2.0”. The institute also takes part in global field studies in researching electromobility in Germany, France, UK, USA, China, and Japan.
Spiegel Institut Mannheim has held an important role in exploring attitudes in consumers concerning electric mobility and alternative powertrain technologies for several years. A meta-analysis of the studies already completed shows:
- In early 2006, alternative powertrain technologies were still not deeply anchored in the minds of consumers, as respondents were merely aware of the term “hybrid”.
- Today, given the ever-increasing media coverage consumers are well informed about alternative powertrain capabilities and technologies of electric cars.
- A majority of consumers (75%) could envision buying an electric car.
- In general consumers consider the use of electric cars to be a positive development, in particular with regard to greater environmental friendliness compared with conventional vehicles with combustion engines. Among people between 25 and 29 years of age, 74% state that environmental friendliness is the main argument for buying an electric car.
- Consumers are critical of electric vehicles regarding their range of distance and charging time as well as the cost of the vehicle and batteries.
- Consumers are largely unwilling to pay a higher price for an electric car than they would for a comparable model with a combustion engine.
- Consumers may accept small limitations in comfort in favor of an eco-friendly technology when purchasing, but they are hardly ready to abandon key aspects of comfort.
We can help:
Spiegel Institut Mannheim offers a variety of research activities in the field of e-mobility with its innovative research methods and tools:
- product-related long-term field trials of e-vehicle fleets through forums and online diaries using our tool logInsight®
- E-focus groups
- Expert interviews on the subject of e-mobility
- Representative surveys on the development of e-mobility
- Lead user workshops, for example, for designing sales and services within the scope of network infrastructure
- Innovator workshops to determine the requirements imposed on electric vehicles
- Development of new concepts and ideas in a concept lab
- Concept tests (driving and stationary clinics)