Strong increase in willingness to buy e-cars

Almost every fourth person can imagine buying an electric car or already has concrete plans to do so. This is the result of a recent survey commissioned by the TÜV Association. According to the survey, barriers to the purchase are high costs and insufficient charging points. The TÜV Association is therefore calling for an expansion of the charging infrastructure and a battery passport for e-vehicles.

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7. September 2021 – The willingness to buy an electric car has increased significantly in Germany in the past two years: Almost one in four Germans (23 percent) can "very well imagine" purchasing an electric car (15 percent) or even have "concrete plans" (8 percent). 30 percent of the respondents can "possibly" imagine buying one. This are the results of a representative survey conducted by Forsa and commissioned by the TÜV Association among 1,004 people aged 16 and over. "Electric cars are gaining popularity among drivers in Germany. Rising environmental awareness, various new e-models, higher purchase bonuses and, last but not least, the renaissance of cars since the outbreak of the Corona pandemic are increasing the willingness of people to buy electric cars," says Dr Joachim Bühler, Managing Director of the TÜV Association at the beginning of the IAA Mobility Fair in Munich. According to a comparable survey from the end of 2019, only 3 percent of Germans had concrete plans to purchase an electric vehicle and 11 percent could very well imagine it. A further 20 percent could possibly imagine buying one. On the other hand, 55 percent were "rather not" or "not at all" prepared to buy an e-car at that time. Currently, only 41 percent of the respondents still have no interest in e-cars.

According to the results of the surveys, while some barriers to purchasing an electric vehicle have decreased, others have remained at the same level or even increased. For example, 52 percent of the respondents still believe that the cost of purchasing an electric car is too high. At the end of 2019, the figure was similar at 49 percent. "Electric cars are still considered expensive despite purchase bonuses and tax incentives," says Bühler. "More information and comparisons are needed on the subject to make the real costs transparent. Climate protection by a car is no longer a luxury." Another barrier is the infrastructure. Almost half of the respondents (49 percent) say that there are too few charging stations or that they are difficult to reach (2019: 39 percent). On the other hand, the situation has eased when it comes to driving range. Only 40 percent still think that the driving range of electric cars is too short compared to the percentage (47 percent) two years ago. And 26 percent think that the battery takes too long to charge (2019: 33 percent). The respondents have become much more sceptical on the actual environmental balance of electric vehicles. 59 percent say it is questionable whether electric cars are really more environmentally friendly than combustion engines. In 2019, only 38 percent had such doubts. Bühler: "Manufacturers must make the environmental balance of electric vehicles even more transparent. This applies not only to power consumption, but also to the environmental balance and the manufacturing conditions of the batteries used."

The TÜV Association calls for further efforts by politicians and manufacturers to further increase the acceptance of electric mobility. This includes the expansion of the charging infrastructure. "There are too few charging stations so far, and they are unevenly distributed throughout the country," says Bühler. In addition, many stations still work with different payment methods and there is little transparency about the prices at the charging station. The safety of the public charging infrastructure also needs to be improved. "Public charging stations are usually exposed to the weather and can become a safety risk due to abrasion and damage," says Bühler. Therefore, periodic inspections are necessary.

Another important prerequisite for the development of e-car market is the so-called "state of health" of the battery. "The battery is the most expensive and the most ecologically sensitive component of an electric vehicle," says Bühler. Car owners and potential buyers need to know at all times in what condition the battery is and what capacity it still has. "A uniform standard must be created for determining the current condition of e-car batteries," says Bühler. "We need a battery passport that covers the entire life cycle of a battery." This is the only way that a flourishing second-hand car market can develop and old car batteries can continue to be used as electricity storage elsewhere for as long as possible.

Methodological note: The data are based on two representative surveys commissioned by the TÜV Association among 1,000 people aged 16 to 75. The current survey was conducted in September 2021 by the market research institute Forsa. The other one was conducted in December 2019 by Ipsos. The questions were: "Can you imagine buying an electric car in the next 5 years?" and "Regardless of whether you could imagine buying an electric car or not: In your opinion, what generally speaks against buying an electric car at the moment? Please select the 3 biggest barriers to buying electric cars."