European motorists are very cautious about the future of the car

Published on 11/03/2024, updated on 17/04/2024

European motorists are very cautious about the future of the car

A European study clearly shows a wait-and-see attitude among motorists when it comes to buying a new car, particularly an electric one. A wait-and-see attitude similar to that observed among ACL members.

An annual survey by the Observatoire Cetelem, carried out in 16 countries*, shows that 41% of the 15,000 people questioned do not intend to buy a car in the next twelve months and 36% simply do not plan to do so in the near future. 6 out of 10 people say that it is “difficult” or even “very difficult” to make the decision to buy a car. The reason for this? A ‘fog’ surrounding the car in terms of information, technology and future regulations. Added to this is the price, which remains the main obstacle to buying an electric car. This is even ahead of fears about range and recharging.

In detail, the study clearly highlights a strong wait-and-see attitude on the part of motorists, who are clearly not sufficiently informed. Surprisingly, the results of the study show, for example, that one person in two is aware of the ban on the sale of internal combustion vehicles from 2035 in the EU. The study also shows that there is real confusion about the regulations surrounding low-emission zones and the various environmental regulations in several European cities.

The price of electricity, which has risen sharply since the war in Ukraine, has also raised doubts in the minds of car buyers when it comes to choosing an electric vehicle. Add to this the rapid and ever-increasing pace of technological development, and it seems that consumers are even more reluctant to invest large sums of money in a new vehicle.

This wait-and-see attitude is similar to that observed among ACL members, who are clearly not entirely won over by electric cars, as shown by the results of the survey on mobility issues in 2023. Last May, over a two-week period, ACL canvassed its members, and 6,742 of them agreed to respond and express their priorities.

Résultats de l'enquête

“There are currently 611,000 vehicles registered in Luxembourg, of which 3.1% are 100% electric, or around 19,200 vehicles. Of this number, 64% are owned by companies because of the advantageous tax system. This shows that the proportion of electric cars owned by private individuals remains very low. The price of an electric car is much higher than that of a combustion car, around €10,000 to €15,000 more expensive. It should be added that the subsidies will expire next April.

Week after week, manufacturers are announcing ever greater autonomy and performance for their forthcoming models. So it’s normal to see people taking a wait-and-see attitude when it comes to buying a car. The direct consequence of this is an ageing car fleet and an increase in the number of breakdowns,” analysed ACL director Jean-Claude Juchem when presenting the results of the survey.

A “difficult” purchase

According to the Observatoire Cetelem survey, motorists in neighbouring countries find it difficult to make a choice when buying a car. In Germany, 53% of those questioned found it ‘difficult’ to buy a car. Although German motorists feel sufficiently informed on the subject, they consider that the new car regulations are unfair to the most modest households. The second reason for waiting to buy a new car is a lack of financial resources.

In Belgium, 63% of those questioned consider buying a car to be ‘difficult’. Although Belgians claim to be far-sighted when it comes to regulations of all kinds, the decision to buy a new car is not an end in itself, and depends above all on whether prices fall.

In France, 64% of those questioned consider buying a car to be “difficult”. Although they claim to have a good knowledge of regulations on internal combustion engines and traffic, they are particularly incisive about them, pointing out that they are unfair, especially to low-income households. They argue that they need help to switch to electric cars.

* The Cetelem study was carried out in 16 countries (Austria, Belgium, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom and United States). The Cetelem Observatory is a research and economic monitoring unit of BNP Paribas Personal Finance, created in 1985. Its mission is to observe, shed light on and decipher changes in consumption patterns in France and abroad. To meet this requirement, the Cetelem Observatory has set up a system based on the diversity and complementarity of content with the publications below.