ECN publication
First come, first served: Who will be the initial users of H2 vehicles? Analysis of current car purchasing, driving and refuelling behaviour in the Netherlands
Published by: Publication date:
ECN Policy Studies 30-12-2010
ECN report number: Document type:
ECN-E--10-081 ECN publication
Number of pages: Full text:
42 Download PDF  

This report discusses people’s car purchasing, driving and refuelling behaviour in order to get insight into requirements people have with respect to personal mobility. Insights gained deliver important implications for the introduction of hydrogen cars. Neither the vehicle technology nor the refuelling network is currently commercially available for a mass-market, however, both need to eventually meet current performance of and fuel availability for conventional cars in order to increase the likelihood of market success. Extensive literature review and a survey among 3000 Dutch drivers aimed to provide insight into issues determining vehicle purchase, driving and refuelling practices.

Outcomes show that most newly built cars are currently bought by the older segment of the Dutch population, with a higher income. It is particularly the male part of the population which makes use of the car most frequently. Generally, Dutch people buy cars in the C size segment (comparable to VW Golf), while currently most hydrogen models are available in the D segment with larger sized cars (e.g. VW Passat). However, the particular group who is likely to represent the largest group of initial buyers (older, male, high income), which may be most interested in the new technology and most likely to be able to afford it may also purchase cars of the larger vehicle segment. Previous studies have shown that people require a car price, driving range, and performance similar to what they are used to now in order to consider switching to an alternative fuel vehicle. Additionally, people are very brand loyal. The most frequently sold brand in the Netherlands is VW, which has no proven technology in demonstration projects so far.

Concerning requirements for refuelling station coverage Dutch drivers indicated in a survey conducted during the THRIVE project, that they most often refuel in the built environment, on the way to work, shortly after leaving home in the first five minutes of the trip. However, drivers also demand hydrogen to be available at 30 to 50 percent of all stations throughout the Netherlands, along highways and abroad in order to consider buying a car driving on an alternative fuel. Earlier research indicated that a well-planned refuelling infrastructure may provide current refuelling convenience at a lover coverage level of 10 to 20 percent. Recommendations following the outcomes of this report propose refuelling infrastructure development in the built environment at stations with high-turnover, along highways in the whole country and abroad, based on international cooperation at European level.

Back to List