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14 Oct 2020, 15:05
Benjamin Wehrmann

Germans convinced transport must change but doubt e-cars are the solution - survey

Clean Energy Wire

Most people in Germany regard the mobility sector as a great threat to the country's climate targets and call for measures to reduce the impact of transport on greenhouse gas levels, a survey conducted by the National Academy of Science and Engineering (acatech) has found. Fifty-nine percent of respondents said that climate change was among their most urgent political concerns despite the pandemic and most of them were convinced that technological progress can help alleviate global warming. However, people remained sceptical or even had greater concerns regarding the practical use of technological alternatives like electric cars. The share of people doubting that e-cars were an environmentally friendly alternative increased from 48 last year to 59 percent. While more people said they "would consider purchasing an e-car in the coming years" in 2020 than in 2019, with their share growing from 21 to 24 percent of respondents, the figure was still lower than in 2011 and 2013 (28 and 26 percent respectively).

High purchasing costs, low range and a lack of charging infrastructure were the main reservations for most respondents. "There are still enormous gaps between reality and the perception of citizens when it comes to e-cars. This should be a call for us to communicate better and more comprehensibly and to better integrate the public in mobility transformation processes," said Thomas Weber, mobility expert at acatech. The most popular measures to reduce transport's impact on the climate were expanding public transport (70%), introducing low-emission propulsion systems for cars and moving more transport from roads to rail or inland shipping (68% each). By contrast, only 52 percent said they endorsed research on alternative fuels, such as hydrogen.  Forty-six percent said they believed mobility needed "systemic rethinking" to become more sustainable, whereas 43 percent said this could be achieved by making adjustments to the existing system.

The survey, conducted in July among roughly 1,240 people, also asked about changed mobility habits in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. It found that the share of daily bicycle users grew from 17 to 22 percent, whereas that of people using their car every day remained constant at 52 percent. Most people said the main reason for preferring their car over other options was "convenience," followed by time saving, a lack of other options and possible savings made compared to other means of transport. Nearly half (44%) said they wanted to work from home more often, not least to reduce traffic volumes.

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