In what may seem as a hiccup for companies working on electric mobility, a study commissioned by Continental finds that when it came to selecting their next vehicle motorists tend to stick to a drivetrain they are familiar with.
The study finds that at present there is still a lack of willingness to switch to a different engine type, with only one third of diesel drivers open to a different drivetrain type. According to the 2018 Continental Mobility Study, an overwhelming majority – more than 80 percent of respondents in Germany and China and over 90 percent in the USA. – would choose the same type of engine as their current car. The only country open to change is Japan, where at least a quarter of respondents said they would consider a different type of engine.
The study further found that the drivetrain people use have no bearing on their willingness to change; around 10 percent of motorists surveyed in China and Japan drove hybrid vehicles or electric cars. Over 80 percent of this group said they would remain loyal to electric drivetrain concepts when buying a new car.
“The results clearly show that motorists nowadays still tend to be conservative when choosing engine types and stick to what they know. This is something that must be considered in the move toward electric mobility, along with long-standing concerns regarding vehicle range. Yet we envisage much higher acceptance of alternative drivetrain concepts in the years to come, when there is a broader range of vehicles available and the general conditions become more attractive – such as tax breaks for company cars,” said Andreas Wolf, president of Continental’s Powertrain division.
Continental says for the study it commissioned market and social research institute Infas to conduct a representative survey of drivers in the USA, Japan, China and Germany. Experts from science and the automotive industry were also interviewed. This makes the study one of the most comprehensive of its kind worldwide on mobility requirements and technology trends in the automotive sector.
Only young motorists show some willingness to change
A considerable number of respondents drove a diesel car – around 30 percent in Germany alone. Around a third of these diesel drivers could see themselves switching to another type of engine, with 17 percent actually planning to do so. Aside from diesel drivers, in Germany, only young motorists aged 30 and under, show a certain willingness to change, with roughly one in five young drivers saying they would consider a different engine type for their next vehicle.
In Germany, the study also addressed the diesel crisis. It revealed mixed views among respondents in Germany on who is to blame. Twenty-six percent laid the blame with politicians, 11 percent stated a mix of reasons and six percent thought that environmental protection associations were responsible. Interestingly, 39 percent of motorists aged 31–45 blame politicians, as do 40 percent of all respondents in Germany in this age group. Only 50 percent name the automotive industry as exclusively responsible for the diesel crisis.
Andreas Wolf gave his opinion on the current decrease in demand for diesel cars: “It’s a shame that diesel technology is perceived so negatively in spite of all its advantages. Euro 6d diesel vehicles with their state-of-the-art exhaust-gas after-treatment technology are not only fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly, but also clean – we shouldn’t forget that fact in the heated diesel debate.”