In 2009 the German government has announced the goal of having one million electric vehicles on German roads by 2020. In order to achieve this goal, to gain experiences with electric vehicles in passenger and goods transport and to create acceptance among users, operators and communities the eight "Model Regions Electromobility" were created. The Federal Ministry for Transport, Building and Housing (BMVBW, later BMVI) hosted the funding programme with the same title. Objective of the mainly demonstration projects was to provide and test solutions with electric cars for different user groups and markets.
To measure the impact of the single projects and the of the eight regional clusters within the programme "Model Regions Electromobility" an accompanying social science platform was established. Its main purpose is to provide a standardised impact analysis across all model regions.
The social science platform aims at maximising the knowledge gained from the program "model regions electromobility ". Therefore, the individual projects of the program are collected and classified with regard to aspects derived from social science in order to allow for an overview of the topic.
The social science platform comprises two main areas of work - customer acceptance as well as the field of electromobility and urban mobility.
The Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research ISI in Karlsruhe coordinates the project and puts special emphasis on the customer side. Therefore, the Fraunhofer ISI coordinates a working group with participants from all model regions in which the findings of the regions for customer research are collected. This is implemented by a survey of as many vehicle users as possible in all model region projects which includes three survey points:
- expectations of electromobility prior to the start of vehicle use
- short-term experience after up to three months of vehicle use
- long-term experience after up to one year of vehicle use
On this basis, Fraunhofer ISI is drawing up a customer requirement and acceptance profile for electromobility which has been implemented in the form of a customer acceptance roadmap.
The Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering and Organization (IAO) in Stuttgart is responsible for the topic of electromobility and urban design. Therefore, a survey of the cities involved in the program, the innovation competition "Elektromobile Stadt 2050" and a description of international approaches for combining electromobility and urban design was conducted.
The majority of the survey participants expresses a high interest in electromobility and plans to stay informed about the topic once the respective projects have been completed. Participants particularly appreciate the handling of the vehicles whilst driving and loading and also the environmental friendliness achieves high scores. Respondents also particularly appreciate the features in which electric vehicles are technically superior to conventional vehicles, i. e. faster acceleration and more quiet driving noises and the resulting driving pleasure.
However, only few people can imagine replacing a conventional vehicle with an electric vehicle. The limited range (charging time, battery capacity) is and remains a strong barrier - even if the vehicles can cover everyday driving. The acquisition costs for electric vehicles are also critically evaluated and represent, from the user's point of view, a significant reason not to buy an electric vehicle at the moment.
When thinking about financing an electric vehicle, users prefer a one-off purchase price (car users would like prices of approx. 20,000 EUR, two-wheeler users of approx. 2,000 - 2,500 EUR).
Soft incentives, in contrast to monetary payments or benefits, cannot yet compensate for the current high purchase costs of electric vehicles. However, there is still hope that the number of people who consider an electric vehicle will increase after the start of use, and it has been shown that private users in some cases show slightly higher intentions for use than commercial users.
The question of replacing the vehicle, however, may not be at the core of the question: The survey participants see the integration of electric vehicles into broader mobility concepts, e. g. in combination with public transport, as part of car sharing or intermodal approaches, as particularly forward-looking.