The coronavirus pandemic is having a lasting impact on people’s mobility habits all over the world. Private car use has seen strong growth, while sharing and hailing services, which have been booming in recent years, are suffering a significant slump. People in France, the USA, Japan and Germany, remain largely loyal to traditional mobility concepts: shared mobility in the form of vehicle sharing or spontaneous hailing plays almost no role in the four countries. In China, meanwhile, one in ten people continue to use these services. These are some of the findings of the Continental Mobility Study 2020. As part of the study, representative surveys on people’s mobility habits were conducted in France, the USA, Japan, China and Germany in cooperation with infas, the renowned social research institute.
Dr. Ariane Reinhart, Continental Executive Board member for Human Relations and Sustainability, says of the study findings: “The results of the Continental Mobility Study show that there is a global need for personal mobility. During the coronavirus pandemic, this demand has increased even more.” Reinhart continues: “Against the backdrop of the pressing climate issue, sustainable and – first and foremost – carbon-neutral solutions for global transport are therefore all the more important. As a technology company with one of the most comprehensive sustainability roadmaps in the supplier industry, Continental is set to make key contributions in many areas related to personal transport. Our goal is carbon-neutral mobility – by 2050 at the latest.”
By switching to 100 percent green electricity in all of its plants as of this year, Continental has taken a first major step toward carbon neutrality. At the beginning of December 2020, the company also announced its Carbon Neutral for Emission-free Vehicles program. This program bridges the gap between emission-free mobility and carbon neutrality – two concepts that are mutually dependent. As part of the Carbon Neutral for Emission-free Vehicles program, direct business with emission-free vehicles will be completely carbon-neutral from 2022. The neutralization of CO2 emissions will be achieved in the first step by generating equal, so-called negative emissions. To this end, all emissions resulting from the procurement and supply of raw materials, from the company’s own production and from recycling at the end of use will be neutralized to the same extent.
While personal mobility is increasing, demand for commercial carpool services in France, the USA, Japan and Germany is in something of a crisis. In France and Japan, at 7 and 6 percent respectively, only a small percentage of the population relies on such services.
The need to switch to private cars is particularly pronounced in China, with 21 percent of those surveyed using “on-demand” solutions due to the pandemic. The high level of acceptance in China is also due to the fact that more people in urban areas complete the online survey, and such solutions are more readily accessible in these areas.
New car-sharing concepts such as ride pooling or ride hailing have not played a relevant role so far. The share of respondents using such services is rising slightly in large cities only, especially in the USA. But even here, there is no evidence of a mainstream phenomenon.
Well over 80 percent of all respondents own the car they regularly drive, and 14 to 20 percent use the car of a family member or a friend.
Although sharing concepts have gained in importance in recent years, particularly in urban areas, private transportation is firmly anchored in most people’s everyday lives and will probably remain so for a long time to come, especially in rural areas where households are currently more likely to have their own car. Respondents who do not have their own car stated that this was primarily for cost reasons, while others said they have no need for one.
Nevertheless, for most people the car is part of day-to-day mobility. 33 percent of Americans use their vehicle at least once a week, while 57 percent stated that they use it on a daily or almost daily basis. Only the French are more frequent car users, at 59 percent.
53 percent of Germans surveyed stated that they use their car on a daily or almost daily basis. 30 percent use it at least once a week. The situation is similar in France, the USA and China. Only in Japan is car use less frequent, with just 34 percent of respondents using their car on a daily or almost daily basis.
New mobility concepts are shaping the debate about the future of mobility – but not the everyday reality of most people, for whom the car is still part of day-to-day mobility. This trend is being intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic in all five countries studied.
The Continental Mobility Study
Since 2011, the technology company Continental has carried out the Continental Mobility Study on various key topics at regular intervals. The Continental Mobility Study 2020 is the sixth edition of the study, which asks people in Germany, France, the USA, China and Japan about various aspects of mobility. In the first stage in September 2020, a representative sample of the population was surveyed in five countries on three continents.
In addition to the expectations and attitudes regarding electric vehicles, the survey also dealt with changes in mobility against the backdrop of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Measures to stop the spread of the virus temporarily reduced mobility to a great extent in all of the surveyed countries as part of strict lockdowns imposed on their populations. At the same time, the behavior of many people changed, even after the measures were relaxed and mobility could largely return to normal. The findings of the survey reveal specific changes in behavior, attitudes and expectations. The Mobility Study 2020 is a joint effort between Continental and the market and social research institute infas, which has been supporting the Mobility Study since 2011.