General information

People’s perceptions regarding new technologies applied to light vehicles

While users appear to be aware of the subject of sustainable mobility, their knowledge is limited with regard to the different environmentally friendly alternatives on the market.

See the report on the perception of mobility technologies (only available in Spanish) |PDF| 2,27 MB.

The general public has a key role to play when it comes to the decarbonization of mobility that is currently under way. Ultimately, it is they who decide which of the  emerging technologies being developed—such as those based on hydrogen, electricity or renewable fuels—they will be predominantly buying and using in their daily lives.  

Knowing more about their perceptions and preferences in this regard is a clear indicator of the actual level of acceptance for all of these sustainable solutions among the general public. This is not only with a view to taking more effective measures to further promote their implementation on a larger scale, but also considering the objectives in place to reduce emissions.

Therefore, to better understand how people really view mobility and their knowledge of the different emerging technologies for reducing CO2 emissions, the Repsol Foundation Chair of Energy Transition Education and Research Program at the Polytechnic University of Madrid and the Corell Foundation, in collaboration with Anfac, Faconauto and Sernauto, have presented the main conclusions of the “Study on perceptions and opinions regarding new mobility technology in road transport”, carried out by the GAD3 demoscopic institute. The aim of this study was to identify society’s level of awareness regarding the issues caused by transport emissions, the different technologies being developed to combat that problem, how all of that is affecting people’s purchase decisions, and the current situation of the automotive industry. 

Study objectives and samples

The study focused on the general public’s awareness of new mobility technologies in road and urban transport, and explored three lines of research: 

Transport
Identify people’s level of knowledge of the issues brought about by emissions in the transport sector. Identify people’s level of knowledge of the different technologies being developed to combat this problem. Analyze the level of influence that people’s perceptions of these technologies has on their purchase decisions and on the reality of the sector.

To ensure a representative sample of the Spanish population, a total of 1,503 people ranging from 18 to 65 years of age were selected, all of whom actively participated in the project. The interview was the chosen methodology used to collect the data, conducted by means of an online questionnaire. 

Conclusions of the report

For greater clarity and understanding, the results of the study were organized around three main themes: awareness of the emissions problem; awareness of solutions or new technologies; and the consequences this all has on purchase decisions. Below, we delve deeper into some of the most eye-opening conclusions that could prove to be of great significance for the future of sustainable mobility in the short term. 

1. About emissions-related problems.

The data collected in the study indicates that people’s level of awareness regarding greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere by the transport sector and their consequences on climate change is quite high.

  • 8 out of 10 people claim to be very or quite aware of CO2 emissions in transport.
  • Young people do not appear to be more aware of this than the rest of the population.

These, however, are positive figures that seem to contradict the lack of awareness that those interviewed appear to have regarding the emissions problem.

87%

mistakenly believe that CO2 emissions are a danger to health.

50%

know that the manufacturer is only required to report the emissions released from the exhaust pipe.

30%

have a clear understanding of what the term “net life cycle emissions” means.

2. About the technologies being developed.

The participants showed a low level of understanding regarding the different technological solutions that are currently available to decarbonize mobility. For example, with regard to electric cars, which is currently the most implemented technology of this kind, there is a certain lack of understanding concerning how they work and the actual impact they have on the environment.

  • Just 60% of the population knows about the technology behind the electric car.
  • While 50% of Spaniards mistakenly believe that electric cars do not generate CO2 emissions.

Moving on to people’s perceptions of alternative technologies, such as renewable fuels or hydrogen, the conclusions reached also confirm a low percentage of clarity in this regard

30%

are aware of alternative technologies for reducing emissions.

64%

did not know that a combustion engine without net CO2 emissions is a possibility.

30%

of Spaniards know that renewable hydrogen is obtained from hydro, wind or solar energy.

3. About the sector and purchase decisions.

All of these perceptions, coupled with the limited awareness that people appear to have in general regarding the different technologies to mitigate the effects of emissions, have an immense impact on how the population interacts with the automotive industry and the factors around which they will be basing their decisions. 

  • 50% of the population is putting off making the decision to buy a new car due to a lack of clarity with regard to mobility technologies and current regulations.
  • A higher percentage of the younger generations intend to buy a second-hand car and are less inclined to purchase a new vehicle. 
  • Spaniards claim that they would spend more money on a car that has a lower environmental impact, with the electric car being the option chosen by most.
  • Nevertheless, when it comes to making a purchase decision, this awareness appears to plummet: potential car buyers value the consumption, the size, the brand, the design, the extras, the price of fuel and the energy used the most.

General consequences

Firstly, it is important to note that people have a high level of awareness, and many are conscious of the fact that there is an emissions problem that needs to be dealt with. Nevertheless, when faced with purchasing a new vehicle for getting around, they are inclined to prioritize other aspects, such as financial ones, over the matter of sustainability. 

Yet it is not only the budget that counts, as uncertainty also plays a highly important role. Not being sure of the available technological alternatives, how they work, the benefits of using them, and a lack of awareness about the changes being made in governmental legislation are all causes for them to put off their purchase decision until the future outlook is clearer.  

The result of all of this is a considerable slowdown when it comes to fleet renewal for more sustainable alternatives, and therefore, a stagnation in the process in place to reduce CO2 emissions. A simple glance at the data for the sector in Spain reveals just how serious the matter really is:

  • The average fleet age is over 13 years.
  • In 2021, there were more sales of used cars of over 10 years of age than new vehicles.
  • Spain is at the tail end of Europe when it comes to implementing electric vehicles.

To overcome this issue and effectively deal with the decarbonization of transport, we must pay greater attention to the needs and perceptions of the general public. People’s needs are diverse, which is why we need different alternatives that adapt to each situation, rather than a one-size-fits-all solution.

Furthermore, it would be illogical to take on such an ambitious challenge as the decarbonization of transport without delving deeper into the problem itself and the technological solutions being developed as a result. There is an urgent need to inform, divulge and clarify these concepts at all levels, in the educational sphere, the media, and in public administrations. This should always be done rigorously and transparently, instilling a sense of security and trust in users. Only then will people feel like they are in a position to take the necessary steps to bring about change and to achieve the decarbonization goals our planet so dearly needs.  

For more in-depth information on the results of the study, don’t miss the video of the event where all of the conclusions reached during the research process were presented.

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