Allensbach study on mobility and sustainability in Germany
Significantly different realities of life in town and country
Individual mobility remains indispensable for vast majority – great general willingness to promote climate protection – expansion of charging infrastructure still viewed as insufficient
Citizens in Germany are fundamentally interested in making their own contribution towards climate-neutral mobility. However, the individual options available vary greatly between citizens in urban and rural areas. These are the central results of a study by the Allensbach Institute for Demoscopy. Questions were asked about mobility behavior, mobility preferences and the population's attitude towards sustainable mobility offers and technologies. The representative survey was carried out on behalf of the Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA).*
Cars remain indispensable for people in everyday life
Cars still play a dominant role in the everyday life of the majority of people when it comes to individual mobility. 74% of the population consider cars to be indispensable for their everyday private life, 49% named bicycles and 41% public transport. Another 29% can’t abstain from using regional or national trains in their everyday lives. Even more clearly: 84% of people in rural areas say they can’t do without their car in everyday life. The proportion of those who have a car and at the same time say that they could easily do without one is 3%.
VDA President Hildegard Müller: "Mobility affects everyone – and therefore also the most diverse realities of life. The car will be a key component of people's mobility now and in the future. At the same time, the mobility of the future is more than just the car – it is the networking and interaction of the various modes of transport - in the interests of the climate and people."
High willingness to advance climate protection,but actual behavioral changes are limited
56% express great or even very great willingness to change their own behavior in favor of climate protection. However, 29% describe their own willingness to change something in everyday life in order to make a contribution to climate protection as less great; 7% express no willingness at all.
Strikingly there is a great (but still unused) potential for climate-friendly behavior. 51% of the population can imagine driving an environmentally friendly car. At the same time, when asked about the concrete possibility of changing personal mobility behavior, 71% of respondents stated that this would be difficult to do, while 16% could change something. Here too, the significant differences between town and country are noticeable. 88% of people in places with fewer than 5,000 inhabitants consider changes in their own mobility behavior to be difficult.
"Many people in Germany cannot cope with their everyday lives without a car – not now and not in the future. That's why we're making it more sustainable, more innovative, safe, more digital and more climate-friendly. The crucial thing is that for the success of the transformation and the necessary support in society, we have to take the different realities of life into account and develop appropriate solutions," said Müller.
Additionally, people were asked who may particularly advance climate protection in the area of transport: 75% are convinced that citizens themselves can make a very large or large contribution to this. Only the federal government and the automotive industry are believed to have more influence: 83% believe that the federal government can contribute very much or much to advance climate protection in the transport sector, 80% attribute this to the automotive industry. Another 72% of the population are convinced that the state governments could contribute very much or much; 71% name scientific institutions such as universities and research institutes as well as Deutsche Bahn, and 66% name the European Union.
"The values for the German automotive industry are recognition and obligation at the same time. That is why we invest around 250 billion euros in research and development worldwide over the next four years, as well as 130 billion euros in constructing new plants, or converting plants and equipping them.
And: By the end of 2024, German manufacturers will offer over 170 electric models worldwide – in all vehicle segments. This shows: The German automotive industry is determined to make the transformation a success story with investments, innovations and passion.
At the same time, the values regarding political responsibility show that Berlin and Brussels are seen as having a duty to enable transformation with appropriate framework conditions for innovation and investment," said Müller.
Charging infrastructure remains crucial criterion for success of e-mobility
The general willingness of the population to change shows how important it is that people must be convinced to switch to e-mobility and continue to be enthusiastic about it. The ability to charge electric cars anytime and anywhere continues to be essential in this context.
Even if the assessment of the charging infrastructure has improved somewhat compared to 2021, it is still considered inadequate. 14% consider the range of charging stations in their own area to be very good or good, 18% where they usually shop and just 7% on motorways or country roads. However, 68% are critical of the availability of charging stations in their own area, 61% think this is the case in the places where they shop, and 49% see deficits on motorways and country roads. The trend comparison shows that although the assessments have improved somewhat, the conclusions still remain critical.
The population expects companies in the energy industry, the federal government and gas station operators to significantly contribute to the further expansion of charging infrastructure. 68% believe that energy supply companies in particular can contribute to making progress in expanding the charging infrastructure for electric cars, 64% believe that the federal government can make a major contribution here, 57% believe that the gas station operating companies could do this. 49% expect this from the city and municipal administrations, almost as many from the municipal utilities, the state governments and the automotive industry.
"The success of e-mobility depends on the expansion of the charging infrastructure. People need the certainty of being able to charge easily anywhere and at any time. The survey shows that everyone needs to become faster when it comes to charging infrastructure.
The following applies: The mathematical utilization of the charging points is only one criterion for customer satisfaction. What is much more important for customers is the availability of charging options – this is the decisive criterion. And this availability must be expanded better and faster: in around half of the communities in Germany there was still not a single public charging point as of July 1st this year. When it comes to the fast-charging infrastructure, which is particularly important for the success of e-mobility and shortens charging breaks, the situation in the communities is even more serious: in eight out of ten communities there was not a single fast-charging point in the middle of the year," said Müller.
"Companies in the automotive industry, manufacturers and suppliers, are already involved in many projects and are continually advancing the development and expansion of the charging infrastructure. We will continue this commitment and thus continue to enable the successful ramp-up of e-mobility," the VDA President added.
Openness to new technologies
For those surveyed, technological progress is an important factor for greater climate protection. When asked about innovations in the automotive sector, 44% believe that they can make a significant contribution to reducing climate and environmental impact. 30% rate the potential of technical progress in the automotive sector as low in this regard.
At the same time, there is still a certain reluctance when it comes to the topic of autonomous driving, for example. Even more than e-mobility, autonomous driving is currently struggling with considerable reservations. Personally, only 18% find the idea of driving in a car that controls itself appealing. However, 64% personally don't think much of autonomous driving. This shows the corresponding need to inform, educate and convince people about the opportunities and possibilities of autonomous driving – in addition to participation, especially against the background of traffic safety.
"We are determined to continue to inspire society about our solutions and motivate them to make their contribution towards climate-neutral mobility. Our guiding principle is to make individual mobility sustainable and digital. Mobility means participation and is therefore a central aspect of our lives," says Müller.
*Interviews were conducted from July 7th to 19th, 2023 / 1011 people
As the comparison with the official statistical data shows, the weighted sample corresponds to the total population aged 16 and over in the Federal Republic of Germany. This conformance within the limits of statistical accuracy is a necessary prerequisite for the generalizability of the results.
Group of people surveyed: German resident population aged 16 and over in the Federal Republic of Germany.
The survey was differentiated according to the size of the place of residence. Allensbach distinguishes between respondents who live in places with fewer than 5,000 inhabitants ("villages"), in places with between 5,000 and under 20,000 inhabitants ("small towns"), between 20,000 and under 100,000 inhabitants ("medium-sized towns") and with 100,000 and more inhabitants ("big cities").