Gartner Group study questions Germany’s plug-in focus

Written By Thomas Ponco on Wednesday, August 31, 2011 | 11:56 AM

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Car sharing just as important as plug-in vehicles?




While the Frankfurt Auto Show will be a forum for many new hybrid and plug-in vehicles, a new consumer survey suggests that most German consumers aren’t nearly as bullish as the German government regarding such vehicles.


Consequently, Gartner suggests that Germany should reconsider its largely singular focus on plug-ins and also include alternatives, such as new engine technologies, car sharing, public transportation, etc.


According to Gartner’s latest survey only “16 percent of Germans would consider buying a battery car, compared with 52 percent who want gasoline power, 43 percent hybrids, 37 percent diesel and 25 percent natural gas motors,” according to the DetroitNews.


Also, the keyword is ‘consider’. As US studies have proven, real world sales are far different than ‘consider’ percentages. For example, numerous studies have for a few years now also suggested that a majority of Americans would ‘consider’ buying a hybrid. Yet, less than 3 percent actually purchase hybrid cars.


Consequently, Gartner analyst and survey author Thilo Koslowski expects plug-ins to achieve just 3 percent of global marketshare by 2020 because of plug-in costs, range limitations, etc.


Fortunately, sometime after 2020, Koslowski has higher hopes for plug-ins.


Sometime in the ’20’s Koslowski expects a battery breakthrough that could significantly increase plug-in sales by significantly reducing battery costs. Even then, however, Koslowski doesn’t expect plug-ins to dominate the automotive landscape. In fact, Koslowski even suggests that automakers might even be wasting time and resources trying to develop plug-in cars that offer the same range and costs of conventional vehicles when other paths might be cheaper, but just as beneficial.


“Governments (like in Germany) are putting all their money on electric vehicles, when there might be other ways,” Koslowski said. “Instead of just subsidizing battery cars, why not split it off and spend it on public transportation, car sharing, give them a free bicycle, why be so limited in terms of what might work?”


Most interesting, in my opinion, is that younger buyers are more open to thinking outside of the box. While that’s a no-duh observation, why isn’t more being done to capitalize on this openness, whether in Germany or in America?


Younger buyers are more receptive to both plug-ins and car sharing, for instance. Thus, while they might not be able to afford to buy a plug-in, they might still be perfect plug-in car sharers — so why not some kind of incentive to share, rather than buy?


Ultimately, young consumers offer the opportunity to break the mold of urban mobility, and governments should be focusing on every opportunity to do just that — as cost-effectively and competitively as possible.


Source: DetroitNews

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