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What we know about alternative drive systems

Topic of the month March

Electromobility is an increasingly topical issue and one that has also been embraced by the German government in the past year: In order to make the purchase and use of electric vehicles more attractive, there are now purchase incentives for end consumers and those entitled to company cars, additional funding for upgrading charging infrastructure, as well as special privileges for electric car owners, for example when parking in city centers.

Registration figures from the German Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) show significant growth rates for battery electric vehicles, albeit at a low base level in relation to the overall figures.
But how have end customers responded to alternative drive systems, and to battery electric vehicles (BEVs) in particular? In its 2021 DAT Report, Deutsche Automobil Treuhand GmbH analyzed what we know about alternative drive systems. The conclusions drawn in the report are based on the opinions of used and new car buyers who purchased a new car in 2020.

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An overview of the results:

  • Alternatives considered but not purchased

    People who purchased a private vehicle in 2020 were asked to what extent they had considered purchasing a car with an alternative drive type (battery electric vehicle, plug-in hybrid, hybrid, or natural gas vehicle) during their decision-making process. While 38% of new car buyers answered that they had considered an alternative drive type, only 13% of used car buyers responded in the same way.
    The high premiums offered by manufacturers and importers in conjunction with the federal government for new electric cars probably motivated many new car buyers to consider this technology during the customer journey. Since 2020, newer electric used cars have also been subsidized, but interest was relatively limited due to the comparatively low number of these cars available and the sometimes outdated (battery) technology.
    The KBA is registration statistics show who ultimately opted for an alternative drive type. In 2020, a total of around 400,000 units (BEV and PHEV) were newly registered (privately and commercially), representing around 14% of all new registrations. For changes of ownership, the figure was just under 40,000 units a share of just one percent.

  • Level of knowledge good, but not yet high
    For the 2021 DAT Report, new car buyers were asked how familiar they were with various alternative drive technologies. The results show that levels of knowledge have increased in recent years. Highest in 2020 was the level of knowledge of battery electric vehicles. While in 2016, with an average score of 3.4, this was still somewhere between I only know it by name and heard/read something about it, in 2020 it improved to 2.4 and thus to between heard/read something about it and heard/read a lot about it. In 2020, passenger cars with a hybrid drive (with and without plug-in) achieved an average score of 2.7. Hydrogen as a form of drive posted a score of 3.3, representing a significantly lower level of knowledge.

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  • Range, charging times, and costs remain obstacles for electric vehicles
    The majority of car buyers opted for a combustion engine once again in 2020. When asked about the top three reasons why they did not buy a battery electric vehicle, new car buyers cited the following reasons: For 59%, limited range was the main obstacle, followed by charging times (49%), and underdeveloped infrastructure (47%). The order of priority was somewhat different for used car buyers: High acquisition costs (55%) and limited range (55%) prevented people from buying an electric vehicle, followed by charging times (38%).
    The statement prefer combustion technology was cited as a reason by only 17% of new and 20% of used car buyers. Therefore, when deciding for or against an electric vehicle, there are more important issues for car buyers and their mobility requirements than a general preference for an internal combustion engine.

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  • Local charging options are available but where do you park your car?
    The refueling of an electric vehicle plays an essential role for its owner. Regardless of ownership, the 2021 DAT Report asked: Do you have charging facilities (power connection or charging station) for an electric vehicle on your premises? This was answered in the affirmative by 65% of used car buyers and 73% of new car buyers. When the latter were asked where these charging options actually were, public charging stations, i.e. supermarkets, shopping centers, or parking garages, were most frequently mentioned (43%). This was followed by central parking lots (31%) and ìat places where leisure activities are carried out (24%). The feasibility in everyday life of a publicly accessible charging station not located at the place of residence is therefore doubtful. Only 17% indicated their own garage or parking space as a charging option.

    Regardless of the charging option, 60% of all private new car buyers indicated that they have a garage, 18% have a carport or parking space, 16% said they park their vehicle on the street, while 5% have an underground parking space. The picture is somewhat different for used car buyers: Here, those who park their car on the street are most strongly represented at 39%, followed by 38% for garage owners. 19% had a carport or parking space, and again, 5% park their car in an underground garage.

  • Electric vehicles a perfect everyday car for 21%
    For the 2021 DAT Report, all new car buyers were asked whether they agreed, neither agreed nor disagreed, or disagreed with several statements concerning electric vehicles.
    For example, the majority of respondents (47%) neither agreed nor disagreed with the statement Electric cars are perfect everyday cars while 32% disagreed and 21% agreed.
    The result for the statement Electric cars are produced in an environmentally friendly way was more conclusive. 47% disagreed with this statement (43% neither agreed nor disagreed, 10% agreed). The environmental impact of the manufacturing of electric vehicles is therefore obviously playing an increasing critical role for end consumers.
    Opinions on usage were different. 48% of new car buyers agreed that Electric cars are environmentally friendly to use (36% neither agreed nor disagreed, 16% disagreed).
    A majority (46%) disagreed with the general question Will electric cars replace traditional internal combustion engines? (39% neither agreed nor disagreed, 15% agreed).

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You can order the DAT Report 2021 for a fee via the web store of the German Association of the Automotive Trade (ZDK). Automotive businesses that belong to a guild of the ZDK can purchase it there at a preferential price.

SilverDAT customers can order a single copy free of charge here, quoting their customer number. 

Media representatives are requested to contact unternehmenskommunikation@dat.de to place their order.

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