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Continental Mobility Study 2020 shows global trend toward own cars; slump in sharing

The coronavirus pandemic is having a lasting impact on people’s mobility habits all over the world, according to the findings of the Continental Mobility Study 2020. 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 US, 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.

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 social research institute.

While personal mobility is increasing, demand for commercial carpool services in France, the USA, Japan andGermany is in something of a crisis. In France and Japan, at 7 and 6% 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 US. But even here, there is no evidence of a mainstream phenomenon.

More than 80% of all respondents own the car they regularly drive, and 14 to 20% 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% of Americans use their vehicle at least once a week, while 57% stated that they use it on a daily or almost daily basis. Only the French are more frequent car users, at 59%.

53% of Germans surveyed stated that they use their car on a daily or almost daily basis; 30% use it at least once a week. The situation is similar in France, the US and China. Only in Japan is car use less frequent, with just 34% of respondents using their car on a daily or almost daily basis.

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 US, 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.


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