ECN publication
Car owners' perceptions and attitudes on innovative vehicles
Published by: Publication date:
ECN Policy Studies 27-1-2012
ECN report number: Document type:
ECN-E--11-068 ECN publication
Number of pages: Full text:
48 Download PDF  

To abate the detrimental effects of transport a transition is foreseen from the conventional fossil cars to energy-sustainable cars. A successful transition requires a major behavioral change of car consumers who need to make choices about new options for transport with uncertain costs and benefits compared to their current car. This paper examines consumers’ perceptions about innovative cars and considerations for buying or not buying innovative cars (hybrid, electric, plug-in electric, hydrogen, flexifuel).

In this study an on-line questionnaire on attitudes, interests and social norms regarding innovative cars was conducted among 339 Dutch respondents who recently bought a new car. To obtain in-depth understanding of the answers, a follow-up study was conducted consisting of two focus groups with a sample of survey participants. These focus groups respectively concentrated on respondents’ perceptions of innovative cars, and on the personality traits of the ‘typical’ innovative car driver.

The results of the survey shows that the attitude towards innovative cars are strongly influenced by affective aspects (such as comfort and pleasant) and to a (much) smaller extent by environmental considerations. The results of the focus groups confirm these findings. According to the participants the price of the car is decisive whereby environmental concerns play no role. The design and image of the car are important. In addition, it appears that the familiarity with (and thus the knowledge about) the innovative cars is still very limited (with the exception of the hybrid car). This point of view stresses the importance of the way in which innovative cars are positioned thereby affecting the image (social norms) people will have regarding these cars.

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