Consumer attitudes to low and zero-emission cars - Poll

This briefing summarises the results of a citizens survey undertaken by Ipsos Mori for Transport & Environment (T&E) examining attitudes towards low-carbon and electric cars across Europe. The survey was undertaken during the first two weeks of September 2018 in nine European countries: Belgium, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Spain, and Sweden.

40% of citizens surveyed say it is likely the next car they’ll buy or lease will be electric or fuel cell powered. A considerable 5-12% of citizens across the countries surveyed say it is very likely they'll buy an electric next. The survey shows there is an immediate opportunity to grow the 2% of sales that presently can be plugged-in.

A third of those polled (24-48% in different countries) say it is somewhat likely that the next car they buy or lease will be electric or hydrogen-powered. This suggests that a significant proportion of consumers are open to buying an electric car. Most carmakers are forecasting 20-25% sales of electric cars by 2025 and the survey results suggest there is demand if they can bring down prices with increasing production. Italians and Spaniards (both 48%) are most likely to say that they would be somewhat likely to buy or lease an electric or fuel cell car as their next vehicle, while the French and Germans (24 and 25% respectively) are least likely to say the same thing.

Nearly two-thirds (62%) of Europeans think that carmakers are not doing enough to sell electric vehicles by attractive marketing, pricing and offering enough choice. This includes 72% of French people, 68% of Germans and 67% of the British surveyed – the three biggest new car markets in the European Union.

Overall, there’s strong public support across nine EU countries (Belgium, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Spain, and Sweden) for public policy to clean up transport now. Even a radical measure like mandating that all cars would be zero-emission in 2030 is supported by a quarter of the citizens surveyed. Both EU Member states and the European Parliament are due to finalise their positions on car and van CO2 regulations for 2025 and 2030 in the next few weeks. The clear message from this survey is that citizens expect their government to be far more ambitious about driving the shift to low and zero-emission vehicles than any of the proposals seriously being considered.

The European Commission proposal in November 2017 recommended a 30% reduction from new cars in emissions from 2020 to 2030 but a quarter of citizens are seeking a complete phase-out of emitting vehicles by this date. While there are a range of issues to be balanced in any policy choices, it is clear that citizens are seeking ambition in the actions of their elected representatives.