Hanover – In no other country has the importance of private transportation recently increased as significantly as in China. This is one of the key findings of the Continental Mobility Study 2020, in which representative groups of people in France, the USA, Japan, China and Germany were surveyed about their mobility habits in cooperation with renowned social research institute infas. Against the background of the coronavirus pandemic, 46 percent of respondents in China say that they use their cars more often than before. In Germany, this figure is half as high at 23 percent.

For years, China has been a key automotive growth market for car manufacturers from all over the world. And the survey results of the Mobility Study 2020 show that the trend toward owning a car in China is likely to continue, with almost 60 percent of respondents saying they have already bought a car or are considering doing so.

This development could also lead to a boost for electric mobility given the population’s openness to electric vehicles, which is greater than in any other country in the Mobility Study: 86 percent of respondents in China say they could imagine buying an electric car. By comparison, only 35 and 28 percent of people in Germany and France say the same. This wide disparity between the countries is also influenced by the fact that in China, more people in urban areas complete the survey as opposed to those in rural regions.

Continental has long recognized the growth potential in the area of e-mobility in China. “The Chinese market remains essential for the further development of e-mobility – and thus also for us,” says Andreas Wolf, CEO of Vitesco Technologies and Continental Executive Board member, adding: “We are shaping electrification at all levels and across all vehicle segments in order to reduce emissions, especially in cities, while at the same time designing environmentally friendly mobility for everyone and creating modern as well as sustainable mobility solutions.”

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With the Carbon Neutral for Emission-free Vehicles program announced at the beginning of December 2020, Continental is the world’s first automotive supplier to combine the two topics of emission-free mobility and carbon neutrality – and thus set a new, ambitious industry benchmark. As part of Carbon Neutral for Emission-free Vehicles, all of Continental’s business generated with products for emission-free cars, buses and trams – in other words, zero-tailpipe-emission vehicles (ZTEVs) – will be produced on a carbon-neutral basis from the beginning of 2022.

As in the other countries surveyed, the biggest obstacles to the purchase of a purely electric car cited by respondents in China are the low availability of charging stations (63 percent) and the short range that can be covered with one battery charge (59 percent). Forced charging breaks during longer journeys are an additional deterrent (44 percent). High prices, meanwhile, are deemed a determining factor by just one fifth of Chinese respondents, which is the lowest number by international comparison and stands in stark contrast to France (55 percent) and Germany (46 percent). For most people in China, cars are part of day-to-day mobility. 41 percent of Chinese people use their car at least once a week, and 43 percent say they use their car daily or almost daily.

Around 60 percent of Chinese people surveyed have been avoiding public transportation since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic – the highest figure by international comparison. Carpools are also being used less since the pandemic began. Instead, more than half of respondents are thinking about buying their own car – or have already done so. At 58 percent, this figure clearly exceeds those for Germany (6 percent), France (11 percent), Japan (6 percent) and the USA (15 percent).

Conclusion

China can lend electric mobility a significant boost. According to the results of the Continental Mobility Study 2020, respondents cite a preference for traveling by car, the desire to purchase their own vehicle against the background of the coronavirus pandemic, and a predominantly positive and open-minded view of electric cars and new technologies as the main reasons for this.

The Topic of Electric Vehicles Has Reached Mainstream Society

Electric mobility was already a key focus of the Continental Mobility Study in 2011; in 2013, the study also covered attitudes toward this topic. Almost a decade on, the time has come for another survey on the subject. What do people in leading industrialized nations on three continents think about electric mobility today? Shedding light on the topic of alternative drive systems, particularly battery-powered vehicles, is a worthwhile undertaking. There are various reasons for this: on the one hand, the spread of electrically powered vehicles lags significantly behind the expectations expressed in recent years. On the other, the topic of ecological sustainability has definitively found acceptance in the social and political mainstream. For many companies, it has gone from being an optional luxury to a central pillar of their business model.

The Continental Mobility Study

Since 2011, the technology company Continental has carried out the Continental Mobility Study on various key topics at regular intervals. The Continental Mobility Study 2020 is the sixth edition of the study, which asks people in Germany, France, the USA, China and Japan about various aspects of mobility. In the first stage in September 2020, a representative sample of the population was surveyed in five countries on three continents.

In addition to the expectations and attitudes regarding electric vehicles, the survey also dealt with changes in mobility against the backdrop of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Measures to stop the spread of the virus temporarily reduced mobility to a great extent in all of the surveyed countries as part of strict lockdowns imposed on their populations. At the same time, the behavior of many people changed, even after the measures were relaxed and mobility could largely return to normal. The findings of the survey reveal specific changes in behavior, attitudes and expectations. The Mobility Study 2020 is a joint effort between Continental and the market and social research institute infas, which has been supporting the Mobility Study since 2011.

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