Study: Europeans expect electric cars to dominate – but don’t want to buy them yet

Sales of all-electric cars in Europe, including Germany, have recently picked up strongly – driven by higher purchase premiums, good air during the corona lockdowns and probably better availability at Tesla and other manufacturers. In the longer term, according to a recent study, a clear majority of consumers in four European countries expect that electric cars will prevail – but only 12 percent would currently buy an electric car as their first car.

12% want an electric car as their first car

These results come from a representative survey of 2,619 people in Germany, France, Italy and Great Britain, which the auto supplier Bosch published last week. Accordingly, on average in the four countries, 50 percent would choose a pure combustion engine as their first car if they “could buy a new car tomorrow”; in Germany this share was highest at 60 percent, and in Italy it was lowest at 35 percent. On average in Europe, only 12 percent opted for an electric car, with 28 percent more than twice as many for a hybrid vehicle.

Such data suggests that despite the recent sales successes of Tesla and others, and despite increased political funding for them, electric cars are still in a niche. In terms of new registrations for this September, the share of purely electric cars in Germany was at the new record level of 6.6 percent. At the top was the dissimilar trio of the German bestseller Renault Zoe, the Tesla Model 3 and the VW ID.3, which began deliveries in mid-September.

After all, when asked about the second car, Europeans in the current Bosch study were more open to electric cars: 19 percent would choose it. That is still less than with pure combustion engines with 36 percent, but slightly more than with hybrid cars, which 18 percent named as the first choice of second car. In Germany, the willingness to buy electric cars was even highest at this point at 20 percent.

Doubts about environmental benefits

Nevertheless, combustion engines remain clearly ahead in both first and second cars. All the greater is the contrast to an assessment made by a two-thirds majority of those surveyed: 68 percent assumed that electric cars will be one of the drive types that will be used in 2030 – more than any other option. Combustion vehicles were rated as relevant by 33 percent and in ten years’ time, while hybrid cars by 54 percent were in the middle.

Overall, this creates the impression that the average European does not want an electric car at all, but still expects them to prevail by 2030 due to political guidelines. One could interpret more positively that it is expected that everything will be done by then, which still speaks against electric cars today – except for Tesla, one could see the charging options as a current obstacle. However, a German study in mid-October showed that a (also growing) majority of the population is not convinced of the environmental benefits of electric cars.


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