Purchase and user aspects

The Institute for Transport Research at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) has published an extensive study on private and commercial users of electric cars in Germany and their user behaviour (http://www.dlr.de/vf/Portaldata/12/Resources/dokumente/projekte/pakt2/Ergebnisbericht_E-Nutzer_2015.pdf). The following statements are based on a survey of more than 3,000 private and commercial users of electric vehicles. These include passenger cars with purely electric drive (BEV) and plug-in hybrids (PHEV), which have an internal combustion engine in addition to the electric motor.

According to this study, when purchasing an electric vehicle, innovative vehicle technology and the reduction of environmental pollution were the most important factors for users. In addition, the lower energy costs per kilometre and the driving pleasure provided by the electric drive also play a role.

Private and commercial users differ only slightly from each other in terms of purchase motivation.

Private user:

  • The private electric vehicle users are predominantly male, do have high educational qualifications and a relatively high income.
  • They tend to live in small towns, in a detached house with parking space and charging facilities.
  • The majority of respondents are environmentally conscious, which is reflected in their attitudes towards conventional vehicles and the use of electricity from renewable energy sources.
  • The proportion of households with (at least) one other car (in addition to the electric vehicle) is very high at 80%. (Frenzel et al., 2015, p. 28).
  • In the private customer segment, potential first-time users are primarily full-time employees from cities with less than 100,000 inhabitants. (Gnann/Plötz 2011: p. 34) "The high acquisition costs due to the battery have so far prevented a broad acceptance of electric vehicles ... Depending on the consumer study, the acquisition costs of 80-89% of those surveyed consider the purchase of an electric car to be particularly important.” (translated from Döring/Aigner-Walder, 2017)

Commercial users:

  • “The commercial users of electric vehicles are mainly small companies, usually with one electric vehicle per location.
  • These small companies have up to 49 employees, a single location and a fleet of up to nine vehicles including one electric vehicle.
  • Companies that own and use only the electric vehicle only 19% choose a PHEV - more likely than the average commercial user (14%).
  • Every second company owns a photovoltaic system and/or obtains electricity via a green electricity contract and thus uses more electricity from renewable sources than the average for Germany as a whole". (translated from Frenzel et al., 2015, p. 31).

"More than 90% of respondents are just as satisfied or more satisfied with the electric vehicle than with their replaced vehicle." (translated from Frenzel et al., 2015, p. 38). "Private users of electric vehicles cover an average distance of 43 km per working day." ... Commercially used BEV are on average driven 49 km purely electrically per day, PHEV 47 km (purely electrically)." (translated from Frenzel et al., 2015, p. 48). Urban mobility will have a strong influence on the development of electro mobility in the foreseeable future. "Another argument in favour of giving priority to the use of electric vehicles in urban areas is that the conditions in conurbations are more favourable than in rural areas in order to promote the nationwide expansion of the charging infrastructure required with public or semi-public access.” ... "On the other hand, an increased use of electric vehicles in rural areas is not to be expected in the short to medium term. This applies in particular to rural areas remote from the agglomeration (periphery), since the distances to be covered in order to satisfy existing mobility needs stand in the way of a greater spread of electric drive systems." (translated from Döring/Aigner-Walder, 2017)

"Restrictions on use are imposed on private users, especially on holiday trips. (translated from Frenzel et al., 2015, p. 43). The use of electric vehicles is rather problematic for longer distances, while shorter distances pose hardly any problems. This is due to inadequate ranges, battery charging times and insufficient expansion of the charging infrastructure.

  • “The limited electrical range of electric vehicles requires users to be more involved in planning their automotive journeys. Aspects such as the electrical range at the beginning of the journey or the availability of charging points at the destination or along the route play a special role.” (translated from Frenzel et al., 2015, p. 59).
  • “In particular, the use of BEV requires more planning of journeys than the use of conventional vehicles. Among the most frequently considered aspects are the currently available range and the availability of loading facilities at the destination.
  • Various functions, which can be used via a smartphone, are used or desired to support journey planning. The most important services include locating and reserving charging points and querying the charging status.
  • Route planning is carried out manually by 43 % of commercial electric vehicle users. Only a small proportion of users (9%) use software". (translated from Frenzel et al., 2015, p. 62).
  • Charging station providers are working on improving customer orientation, e.g. through a standardised approach to information transfer to the respective charging points. "In addition to apps from vehicle manufacturers, charging point operators and mobility providers such as petrol station card operators or mobility start-ups, there are also a large number of private websites and smartphone apps that point the fastest way to the next charging point. Most of these websites also provide an overview of access options, opening hours and charging points for each charging point.” (NPE 2015)

Do you find more charging station apps?