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Survey on the future of the powertrain

A Bosch survey indicates that Europeans want diversity in vehicle propulsion

A person stands on the street and charges an electric vehicle at a charging station.

Bosch wanted to find out what kind of powertrain people in Europe prefer. The company interviewed participants from four countries on this topic. According to the findings, all powertrain types will continue to play a role in the future.

Setting incentives such as purchase premiums aside, if you could buy a new car tomorrow, what type of powertrain would it have? These and other questions were asked by the Innofact market research institute on behalf of Bosch to more than 2,500 survey participants in Germany, France, Italy, and the United Kingdom. The representative survey, which was conducted in June 2020, involved people across various age groups who live in the city or the countryside. The evaluation of the survey results showed, among other things, that half of the Europeans surveyed would choose a purely internal-combustion engine-driven vehicle as their primary car. As regards the second car, a third of the respondents still decided on the same type of powertrain. However, when it comes to the powertrain system of the future, many survey participants believe that electromobility is ahead of the game: Around 68 percent assume that electric powertrains will be the most commonly used drive system in 2030, even before hybrids and internal-combustion engines. Just under one in three of the respondents regard the fuel cell as the key technology for future mobility.

There are many paths to sustainability

Bosch is dedicated to making mobility as resource efficient as possible. Electric vehicles with batteries or fuel cells are suitable for this because they enable climate-neutral transportation — provided that the charging current or hydrogen used comes from renewable sources. “Electric mobility is up and coming — and that’s a good thing. This year alone, Bosch is investing 500 million euros in this area,” says Dr. Stefan Hartung, chairman of the Bosch board of management. Nevertheless, Bosch is taking a multi-pronged approach to pursuing its vision of CO2-neutral and virtually emission-free traffic: On the one hand, Bosch wants to become one of the leading suppliers of battery and fuel cell-powered powertrain systems. “At the same time, we are also constantly refining the internal-combustion engine because it is still in demand,” says Hartung.

An information graphic on the currently most popular types of drive in Europe. The internal combustion engine is in first place, followed by the hybrid, the electric drive and LPG.

Renewable synthetic fuels turn the internal-combustion engine into a climate-neutral technology

An info graphic on the expected most popular types of drive in the year 2030: The electric drive is in first place, followed by the hybrid, the combustion engine and LPG.

Bosch estimates that around one-third of all newly registered vehicles will be fully electric by 2030. Two-thirds of new vehicles will still be powered by an internal-combustion engine — many of them as hybrid vehicles also equipped with an electric motor. But even cars with conventional diesel or gasoline engines can provide climate-neutral locomotion. The technical prerequisite for this has already been developed: renewable synthetic fuels, so-called e-fuels. These can be produced in a sustainable manner from hydrogen and CO2 extracted from the ambient air. On average, 57 percent of the survey participants agree with the statement that politics should promote e-fuels through tax incentives. “If we want to achieve the climate targets, we need renewable synthetic fuels,” says Hartung. “If powered by synthetic fuels, the more than one billion vehicles already on the roads across the globe can contribute to climate protection.”

The car remains indispensable for the majority of respondents

An info graphic to the question: "Can you imagine to live without a car?” This question is answered in the negative by 77 percent of the rural population, 48 percent of the 18 to 29-year-olds and 51 percent of city dwellers.
Graphic for the question “Reasons for a car”. Answer: “Lack of flexibility and the alternatives are too cumbersome for me.”
Graphic for the question “Reasons for a car”. Answer: “There is no alternative for me.”
Graphic for the question „Reasons for a car“. Answer: „I am professionally dependent on a car.“

The survey also highlighted the important role cars play for mobility in Europe. Around 60 percent of the respondents in Germany, France, Italy, and the UK cannot imagine living without a car. And the clear majority of the remaining 40 percent would only be willing to do without it part of the time. In rural areas, the approval rate for owning a car is 77 percent. Incidentally, the same applies to the generation of 18 to 29-year-olds, around half of whom also clearly spoke out in favor of owning a car.

While all respondents in Germany (61 percent) and the UK (47 percent) cited high flexibility as the most important reason for needing a car, the French (41 percent) require it, above all, for work. The majority of Italians surveyed (55 percent) prefer the car over other forms of mobility. “The car will remain the number one means of transport for the foreseeable future,” sums up Hartung. Technologies from Bosch will help to ensure that this form of mobility remains affordable and compatible with goals set to protect the environment.

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