Despite Covid-19, Germans still want modern, climate-friendly mobility
Munich, 13 October 2020
How is the coronavirus crisis affecting the mobility behaviour of people in Germany? Has there been any change in public attitudes towards electric mobility? And do people still regard climate and environmental protection as important issues? These are some of the questions answered by the Mobility Monitor 2020, a survey undertaken by the Allensbach Institute for Public Opinion Research (IfD) on behalf of acatech – National Academy of Science and Engineering. First carried out in 2019, the second edition of this representative population survey reveals that the German public is expecting major changes in the mobility system.
“Since 2019, we have carried out an annual survey on behalf of acatech, in which we analyse the attitudes of people in Germany towards environmental and climate protection in the context of mobility. While the Mobility Monitor 2020 still looks at the trends in attitudes towards environmental and climate protection, its main focus was to investigate whether there have been any changes in people’s mobility behaviour since the onset of the coronavirus crisis earlier this year. The results confirmed that people’s movements have been confined to a much smaller radius”, explains Renate Köcher, Managing Director of the Allensbach Institute for Public Opinion Research and acatech Senate member.
More people cycling during coronavirus crisis, but cars remain indispensable
The results of the survey confirm that people in Germany have changed their mobility behaviour as a result of the coronavirus crisis. Just under half (48%) of the population travelled less frequently this year, with 40% of respondents saying they hadn’t travelled abroad at all and 39% saying they hadn’t travelled by plane. The fact that people’s movements have been confined to a smaller radius since the onset of the pandemic has led to an increase in cycling: 22% of those surveyed said they use their bicycle every day, compared to 17% in 2019. And it seems that people in Germany intend to stick with this particular change in behaviour. 27% of Germans said they planned to keep cycling more after Covid-19, whereas in the case of air travel, most people are hoping for a quick return to the old normal – just 10% of those surveyed said they would continue to avoid travelling by plane once the crisis is over.
Nevertheless, cars are still people’s preferred way of getting about in Germany. 9 out of 10 respondents said they use a car regularly, while 52% use one every day, exactly the same percentage as in 2019. It is therefore hardly surprising that three-quarters (74%) of those surveyed said their car was indispensable.
Signs of changing attitudes towards electric mobility: many remain sceptical, but more people would consider buying an electric vehicle
The proportion of people who would consider buying an electric vehicle went up from 21% in 2019 to 24% in 2020. The figure is substantially higher for hybrid vehicles – over a third of respondents (36%) would consider switching to a hybrid. Interestingly, however, while one in two respondents (53%) said they expect electric mobility to catch on, only a quarter (24%) said they hoped this would happen. This attitude was also evident in last year’s survey. The reasons for the continued scepticism about electric mobility remain unchanged: the high cost of buying electric vehicles (72%), inadequate charging infrastructure (69%) and concerns about vehicles’ range (60%). And even more people in this year’s survey questioned whether electric vehicles are really an eco-friendly alternative (59% compared to 48% in 2019).
“The annual Mobility Monitor survey helps us to remain focused on the opinions and needs of the general public when shaping the future of our mobility system. When it comes to electric mobility, there is a huge gulf between reality and people’s perceptions. We need to communicate better and more clearly and ensure that the public is even more closely involved in the process of transforming our mobility system”, stresses Thomas Weber, acatech Vice-President and Head of the priority theme Mobility.
Climate protection remains firmly in the public consciousness
At present, the public’s political agenda is of course strongly influenced by the coronavirus crisis. Nevertheless, 59% of those surveyed said that environmental and climate protection is one of the most urgent policy issues. Overall, people’s ideas about what should be done to reduce harmful climate impacts have changed only slightly since 2019. 63% think it is particularly important to use clean drive technologies for cars and HGVs, 61% said that public transport should be promoted and 60% advocated reducing congestion on our roads by making increased use of rail and waterways for transporting goods. Significantly, the vast majority of respondents thought that technological advances can play a major part in reducing harmful climate impacts. Furthermore, a growing minority (up from 26% to 33%) believes that changing our mobility behaviour and options can make a significant contribution to protecting the climate.
Changing mobility behaviour: less traffic as more people work from home
Working from home has become a more widely accepted practice during the current crisis. As a result, significantly more Germans than in 2019 said that they expect travelling to work by car to become less and less common in the future (74% in 2020 compared to 62% in 2019). The respondents welcomed this trend – 44% said they would like to work from home more in the future, with traffic reduction among the reasons cited. In order to reduce congestion even more, people would like to see further expansion of public transport (51%), functionality that allows cars to automatically contact emergency and/or breakdown services in the event of an accident (50%) and smart traffic light control (49%).
About the Mobility Monitor 2020
The survey is based on 1,237 face-to-face interviews with a representative cross-section of the population aged 16+. Its content and methodology are modelled on the 2019 survey, making it possible to discern a variety of different trends. The interviews were conducted in July 2020.