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The car of the future: will ownership be a thing of the past?

January 6, 2015

GfK and AutoScout24 surveyed 8,800 people for the report ‘The Cars We Want Tomorrow’. Drivers aged 18-65 in seven European countries (Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain), were surveyed on a wide range of topics, from safety to cost, comfort to the environment, connectivity to design. In this article we look at their expectations of how car ownership might change in the future.

Car manufacturers are increasingly thinking about their broader role as mobility providers, but does the European driver take the same view? Not according to this research that suggests that for the majority of Europeans, owning a car will continue to remain the priority for their mobility. Nearly nine out of 10 people surveyed (87%) want to own their own car in the future.

Ownership isn’t the only option – but it is still the popular choice

Almost two thirds of people still want a car that fulfills as many of their mobility requirements as possible (63%). This suggests that even if it is formulated differently in the future, today’s standard highly versatile, mid-range estate car would probably attract many of the same owners tomorrow. One quarter (24%) want to own a car that is ideally suited to one specific purpose. This may be a run-around for city driving but with the option of a rental or shared car when needed, for example, a spacious estate car for longer journeys. Only 7% of people said they would give up owning a car and revert solely to car sharing and car hire. Older respondents are especially receptive to this idea: twice as many 60–65 year olds (11%) chose this arrangement compared to 18-29 year olds (5%). Significantly more city residents than country dwellers can imagine relying on car-sharing (9%).

The country comparison shows that Austrians (14%) and Dutch (11%) drivers are more open to a solution that does not involve owning a car. The French are most attached to the combination of ownership and rental/car sharing (28%). The Spanish deem it most important to own a car that is an all-rounder (74%) and so fulfills most of their mobility needs.

Integrated mobility solutions are the way forward

Almost two thirds (63%) of respondents welcomed the vision of combining the car with other means of transportation in the future, and for their smartphone to suggest the ideal options for their journey. Overall the idea of buying a mobile solution, rather than a car, appealed to 53% of Europeans. This option gives drivers access to other means of transport beyond a car, with fees billed directly through one single provider. This includes public transport – a radical departure for car manufacturers.

Privacy please

An owned car offers its occupants privacy, and at 91%, it’s a key reason why Europeans place value on their own car when they are out and about. Seven in 10 (69%), said they like being able to leave their personal belongings in their own car, even if they won’t be using it for a while. One fifth (21%) of Europeans feel their privacy is maintained in a rented car. For a minority (10%) privacy bears little or no importance in the mobility of tomorrow. The older the respondents, the less important the role of privacy in mobility becomes. 18% of 60–65 year olds said privacy wasn’t important to them, compared to only 7% of 18-29 year olds.

An aging population

Thomas Weiss, Editor-in-Chief of AutoScout24 Magazine, says: “The classic image of young people as being open to new kinds of ownership compared to a “traditional” older population who are wedded to ownership simply does not add up. As the population in the west becomes older, forward-looking mobility concepts such as Mobility on Demand are going to be increasingly important and it’s encouraging to see older drivers open to new mobility concepts.”

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There are five articles in this series covering safety, cost, budget, functions and mobility. Read the full study for free at:www.thecarswewanttomorrow.com

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