Electric vehicles are mainly interesting in car-sharing and commercial fleets

April 04, 2016

What are the decisive aspects influencing the further diffusion of electric vehicles? And who is particularly attracted to them – whether as a privately owned vehicle or in a car-sharing scheme? The Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research ISI looked at these questions as part of the research accompanying the program “Model Regions Electric Mobility“. The results show: younger couples and families are a promising target group for car-sharing. When it comes to purchasing an electric vehicle, however, private households only become relevant in the medium term; commercial fleets are more important in the short term.

The Fraunhofer ISI interviewed 947 users of electric vehicle car-sharing schemes for the recently published German brochure “Electric vehicles for car-sharing: who uses them and how are they evaluated?“ The results show that these users form a relatively homogeneous group: they are frequently highly educated young men (average age 39). They are usually employed and live in smaller households – some with children – in central residential areas. The majority does not own a car and are multi-modal travelers, using several modes of transport on a daily basis.

Since many users of e-car-sharing already have experience with conventional car-sharing schemes, they are not completely new clients. Including electric vehicles in car-sharing does not really attract any additional customer groups, but it is a suitable way of introducing electric vehicles to primarily younger people who do not yet need their own car or who cannot yet afford one.

Tailor e-car-sharing to drivers aged between 30 and 40

According to Fraunhofer ISI’s analyses, there are two important target groups for e-car-sharing: first, those under 40 who do not own a car, are multi-modal and have a high affinity for e-sharing; and second, somewhat older couples and young families with a car with average multi-modality and an average affinity for e-sharing. This is why the research team recommends tailoring e-car-sharing schemes to the needs of younger to middle-aged persons between 30 and 40 living with partners or families, who use the sharing schemes either to substitute or complement their own cars. Uta Schneider, who was part of the project team at the Fraunhofer ISI, adds: “The people with an affinity for sharing and multi-modality are most likely also practiced users of information and communication technologies and therefore a suitable target group for integrated mobility services, for example those that combine electric vehicles with local public transport.“

With regard to how electric vehicles are evaluated, most of the questioned vehicle users are enthusiastic; they assess the vehicles as environmentally-friendly, useful for everyday life and easy to operate. They are not quite as satisfied with their driving range and believe their costs are too high. In addition, they think that more electric vehicles should be available in sharing fleets.

In the main, these evaluations are very similar to those published in 2015 in the brochure “Electric vehicles in households and fleets: What influences the willingness to buy and use them?“, for which Fraunhofer ISI’s project team interviewed 500 private and commercial users of electric vehicles.

Higher acceptance in commercial fleets than in private households

It emerged that private individuals have a relatively low willingness to replace a conventional vehicle with an electric one. The acceptance of electric vehicles in commercial fleets is much higher. Among other things, this is due to the fact that conventional substitute vehicles are often available in such fleets that exceed the possibilities of electric vehicles. Commercial users actually evaluate the charging time needed and the transport capacity of electric vehicles in a similarly lukewarm way to private users, but this does not have a negative effect on their acceptance.

Dr. Elisabeth Dütschke, who leads the project at Fraunhofer ISI, has this advice: “It makes sense to promote electric vehicles in e-car-sharing and commercial fleets. These are segments where younger people who are more likely not to buy a new car can gain first-hand experience with this technology. They can get to know electric vehicles early on in this way and, if their experiences are positive, they are more likely to consider buying an electric vehicle if the need arises. This supports a long-term shift in thinking with regard to mobility“.

The brochures (only available in German) “Electric vehicles for car-sharing: who uses them and how are they evaluated?“ and “Electric vehicles in households and fleets: What influences the willingness to buy and use them?“ can be downloaded at https://www.now-gmbh.de/de/service/publikationen.

About the "Model Regions Electric Mobility"

The German Federal Ministry for Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) has been promoting the program “Model Regions Electric Mobility“ since 2009. Fleets and charging infrastructures are being set up in several towns and regions, and business models and networks of actors developed. In addition, the project partners cooperate in terms of the content and issues and evaluate the data and project results as part of the accompanying scientific research. This accompanying research is led by the National Organization for Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology GmbH (NOW). Further information is available at the project's website and at https://www.now-gmbh.de/de/modellregionen-elektromobilitaet/foerderprogramm-modellregionen.

The Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research ISI analyzes the origins and impacts of innovations. We research the short- and long-term developments of innovation processes and the impacts of new technologies and services on society. On this basis, we are able to provide our clients from industry, politics and science with recommendations for action and perspectives for key decisions. Our expertise is founded on our scientific competence as well as an interdisciplinary and systemic research approach.