2015 Continental Mobility Study: Electric Cars Face Image Problems


Continental suggests that findings from its 2015 Continental Mobility Study indicate that electric cars face image problems.  The entire study though is flawed because Continental allows responses from those who have no experience with electric cars:

“If you have no experience with these cars please rate the statements based on what you heard about it or expect from it.”

Below you’ll find slides (most of which are near impossible to make sense of) and a press release from Continental, but we stress that the study and its results are flawed.

Continental Mobility Study 2015: Electric Cars Facing Image Problems

Drivers mainly see electric cars as eco-friendly
Only a few consider them sporty and fun to drive
Many older drivers do not want an electric car, and younger drivers increasingly reject them

Electric cars have a special “green” image among drivers in Germany, but so far they barely evoke any emotions. In the 2015 Continental Mobility Study, a clear majority see fully electric-driven vehicles as environmentally friendly (72%) and sensible (67%), but the perception of image factors that play a key role in the purchase decision, such as driving pleasure (26%), attractive design (26%), and sportiness (23%), is low. In addition to the higher purchase price compared to conventional vehicles, the unbalanced image dampens drivers’ expectations as to when they themselves will actually use such a vehicle.

2015 Continental Mobility Study Graphic

2015 Continental Mobility Study Graphic

For the 2015 Continental Mobility Study, the international automotive supplier Continental had the market and social research institute infas conduct a representative survey of motorists in Germany and the U.S.A., and a qualitative survey in France, Japan, and China. Experts from science and the automotive industry were also interviewed.

Compared to the 2011 Continental Mobility Study, significantly fewer drivers in all age groups expect to use a pure electric car in the medium term (four to ten years). The expectation figures fell from 47% to 34% among those 16 to 30 years old, and from 46% to 35% among those 31 to 59 years old. The reluctant attitude amongst drivers 60 and over – of all the groups, a population segment featuring an affinity for cars as well as high purchasing power – leveled off at 40%. At the same time, there was a strong increase (from zero to 20%) over the past three years in the number of young drivers who would switch to an electric car only if vehicles with internal combustion engines were no longer available.

2015 Continental Mobility Study Graphic

2015 Continental Mobility Study Graphic

“After several booming years, the pure electric car is currently facing image problems,” says José Avila, Continental Executive Board member and head of the Powertrain division, commenting on the findings of the study. However, with hybridization – the combination of ultra-modern combustion engines with electric motors – he sees a way out. “Increasing hybridization, including 48-volt technology, will clear the way for electromobility. It allows a reasonable cost/benefit ratio and gives drivers their first experience with electromobility.

Avila is also confident that the image of e-vehicles’ will improve. “Hybrid vehicles can create acceptance for electric cars. Drivers have the possibility to travel stretches of road in hybrid vehicles using only electric power and experience first hand how much fun they are to drive.” Avila feels the study confirms that further consumption potential for combustion models can be developed while simultaneously moving forward with the strategy for the gradual electrification of the powertrain.

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84 responses to "2015 Continental Mobility Study: Electric Cars Face Image Problems"
  1. Speculawyer says:

    Damn . . . I would have thought Tesla would have helped that ‘fun to drive’ number!

    What the heck? Even Fiat 500e cars and LEAFs are fun to drive.

    1. jue says:

      I’m Never Buying That! Define Fun ….Fun to me is smooth seamless Strong “QUIET” NOISE Free Exeleration…Tesla Does all That & More Very Well! ..99.99999999999% Of People That Buy EV’s Will NEVER BUY “ICE” Cars AGAIN!…

      1. Speculawyer says:

        You gotta realize there is a lot of lughead mentality out there. Car need go VROOM VROOM!

        So much so that they car-makers have taken to installing fake sound systems to increase the engine noise.

        BTW, the EV makers hurt themselves on the ‘look nice’ aspect. The LEAF, Think City, Coda, i-MiEV, Spark EV, and BMW i3 probably all hurt in the ‘look nice’ category.

        Tesla looks good though. Volt looks OK.

      2. Rob says:

        As a strong ev enthusiast, Leaf, spark, Renault are all… ugly cars. While Teslas is a great car, it is not one that most people can buy. 80 miles range and 0-60 times that are over 10 seconds are not good for your image. The sales numbers speak for themselves. We have a long way to go to get to popular cars.

        1. Mister G says:

          Wait a minute, my 12 brilliant silver Leaf does look better with tinted windows. On the other hand, the ugly BEVs you mentioned are all made by ICE manufacturers.

          1. BraveLilToaster says:

            “the ugly BEVs you mentioned are all made by ICE manufacturers”

            Before you start shouting “Conspiracy!” you should look at Nissan’s *other* vehicles.

            Like the Juke, the Cube, the Murano, the Titan…

            I’m sure what happened with the Leaf styling is that the VP’s came to the design department and said “we want our new electric car to have its own distinctive styling”. And the design department shouted back “You’ve come to the right place! Distinctive is what we *do*!”

            So they came up with a weird mashup of the Murano and the Juke and then screwed up the headlights because aero. Or something.

            1. Djoni says:

              Totally personal asumption.
              Mine is pretty cool and lot’s of people tell me the my car look great.
              It’s a Leaf.
              I also find it pretty strange when I bought it 3 years ago, but not sure why, I’ve change my mind and now I feel good about it’s cosy look.

              What I have found over my life, is people getting bore with something they were very excited just a few month before.
              So 3 years down and still proud of it ain’t bad.
              BTW, for my personal taste, I find the Tesla too massive to look good, but it’s just me.

    2. Leptoquark says:

      That’s why I’m only to give rides in my Leaf for Drive Electric Week, instead of being merely parked.

  2. Stephen says:

    The expectations 4-10 years is still high compared to the projected production capacity. If the manufacturers can come up with compelling vehicles the buyers are there.

  3. Brian says:

    I don’t know if I agree with you that the study is flawed because they included people who have no experience with EVs. This study is about image – by definition, what one thinks about something. If people are turned off by their vision of EVs, they aren’t going to drive them, let alone buy them.

    1. In other news, Diapers face image problems among non-parent couples.

      Seriously iris like asking speedboat owner of evaluate the features and qualities of sailboats. Non-expert opinions are just opinions and not facts.

      1. przemo_li says:

        But in this example “experts” are too small group to provide sustainable EV sales 😛

        Public at large must literary buy into EVs if we ever want more then 5% of the market.

        What this study show is “image problem”.

        And I agree. Its hard to convince people that EVs are fun. Even if You just quote torque numbers they will claim that those cars aren’t fun.

        Tesla S … do not help in my country.

        People buy 120k PLN new cars. Tesla with 300k + PLN? Rich mans toy 😉

        So we have more “affordable” cars here, priced like some good family sedans.

        We really need fun factor here.

        Breaking general bias in that regard is best thing that could happen to EVs.

      2. Vance says:

        Actually it is news. We also need to know why people are not buying EVs. Early adopters are not the mass market. And the mass market isn’t coming around.

        Seems like there is a building consensus for plug-in hybrids as a transition mechanism. I tend to agree. Perhaps a straight BEV transition is too difficult or complicated or not possible with a lot of people’s lifestyles.

      3. David Stone says:

        Brian’s point is valid; the image that the vast majority has is very important.

        And your comparison is flawed. Most people see diapers as positive, long before they become parents.

    2. Sublime says:


      That’s exactly the point of the study. If anything, people who have first hand experience should be eliminated from the study.

      1. Speculawyer says:

        Exactly. The point is to learn about the non-EV mindset . . . not the small number of people that are already sold on EVs.

        1. kdawg says:

          They should do another study of people that only drive plug-ins and ask them what their thoughts are about gas cars, and what’s the likely-hood of them buying one, LOL.

          1. Brian says:


            I’d love to share my opinions on the subject…

          2. Glenn says:

            I’m planning to make the internal combustion engine in my 2013 Volt, my last fossil fuel powered engine purchase of any kind.

    3. Murrysville EV says:

      Agreed; that’s the point of the study.
      If you can only sell EVs to fanboys, what’s the point of marketing them?
      Even having driven a Leaf for nearly 3 years, I haven’t won any converts among my friends.

      1. Mister G says:

        I hear you, I haven’t converted one family member, but most of my family is conservative Republican.

        1. kdawg says:

          I have about 4 converts under my belt, with a couple more on the edge 🙂

          1. Brian says:

            One more advantage for the Volt. When I see family, I usually travel to them. I have to leave the Leaf behind because it cannot make the 250+ mile trips. So it’s only so convincing when I tell them about the wonderful car I have at home… The Volt makes a much better recruiting tool.

            Of course, the catch is that the Volt is too small so I can’t use it anyway. And the sub-compact size turns off most people to begin with.

            1. Epicurus says:

              Plug-in hybrids have better market potential between the coasts IMO. Sales will improve after plug-in hybrid SUVs are on the market. The auto makers should have come out with them first.

            2. Nix says:

              Roughly 2.1 Million new “Small Car” sized vehicles are sold in the US every year (and growing). So clearly not everybody hates small cars.

              In contrast, only 0.5 Million “Large Car” sized vehicles get sold every year (and shrinking). So bigger isn’t always better.

        2. Speculawyer says:

          I haven’t converted anyone . . . but most of my family lives in Minnesota and thus a pure EV is not so good in the cold and for going skiing.

        3. Open-Mind says:

          Mister G, if you’re trying to convince conservative Republicans to buy a Volt or something similar, try using these six talking points:

          1) As a conservative, you want to pay lower taxes.  My Volt purchase allowed me to qualify for tax credits last year that lowered my effective tax rate. Less money for the government to squander.

          2) As a conservative, you want to pay less for gasoline. My Volt lets me choose between gasoline or my own electricity as fuel, but that electricity several times cheaper (per mile) than gasoline. So the Volt creates price competition between electricity and gasoline which helps drive down the price of gasoline.

          3) As a conservative, you support the coal industry. Thanks to my Volt, energy from coal (delivered to me via the grid) becomes a public transportation fuel.  Our huge USA coal reserves have not been a transportation fuel since steam engines were retired in the 1950’s.

          4) As a conservative, you support the nuclear energy industry. Thanks to my Volt, nuclear energy (delivered to me via the grid) becomes a public transportation fuel.  Our USA nuclear energy reserves have never before been a transportation fuel for the general public. Historic.

          5) As a conservative, you want the USA to be energy independent.  All of the electric energy that powers my Volt is made in the USA.

          6) As a conservative, you want to promote innovation and manufacturing within the USA.  My Volt was designed and manufactured by an American company in Michigan, USA.

          1. przemo_li says:

            +1 🙂

          2. Rick says:

            As a slightly right-of-center independent, I agree with all your points, except #1 can be a double edged sword for conservatives. Certainly individuals love to save on their taxes, but the tax credit program as a whole is viewed by conservatives (rightly or wrongly) as government squander of tax dollars.

    4. Kevin says:


    5. Lensman says:

      Entirely correct. There’s a lot of denial going on here, by whoever wrote that article.

      The Prius and the Leaf do have a “dorky” appearance, and do contribute to the public perception that EVs are not fun to drive. Worse, this survey was done in Europe, where the most common EV is the Twizy, a tiny, low-speed NEV that doesn’t even have windows or real doors. Need I say more?

      But the answer isn’t to gradually “ease” the average driver into acceptance of EVs by trying to sell him a mild hybrid. The answer is to promote test drives of EVs which are fun to drive, like the Model S, the i3, and perhaps the Volt. The visceral experience of driving or riding in a well-engineered EV isn’t something that can be shown in a commercial… altho the reaction certainly can, as shown by that famous “Tesla grin”!

      1. przemo_li says:

        Volkswagen e-Golf will help too.

        Sadly its under produced or something cause Norway gets most of sales :$

        Good news is that France started to love their EVs. So both french and german car oems see potential now 🙂

        New EU regulations on air pollution will only help in changing economical equation.

  4. jue says:

    Only to Cave People & People Who Like NOISE & AIR Pollution ,are EV’s Boring & Have An Image Problem …Caveman Mentality Makes New & Better Things From Happening, As a Result Of Ignorance & Midevil Thinking …….

    1. Aaron says:

      As an English as a Second Language teacher, your posts are like fingers down a chalkboard.

      You do have a good point, though. I refer to the unwashed masses as the “Wal-Marters”. What would a typical Wal-Mart family think of these new technologies?

      4K TVs: “That’s expensive. This bigger one’s cheaper, so it’s better.”

      EVs: “What do you mean I can’t drive to Arkansas on a single charge? My 1987 F-150 can make it and carry my kids in the bed!”

      1. jue says:

        Why? Did U think teachers are Smart?

      2. MikeM says:

        Aaron: What In The World Are You Talking About?

      3. kdawg says:

        is jue actually ja?

      4. Rick says:

        Referring to anyone who is not an early adopter as the “unwashed masses” or a “Walmarter” really does not do anything to further your EV crusade.

  5. Anon says:

    The Onion headline would likely read:

    “Study Says Rednecks Baffled By Electric Vehicles. Still Prefer Filthy Gasoline.”

  6. Trace says:

    I don’t think this is a flawed study. Are the perceptions wrong? Yes and no. Most EVs are boxy little city cars with anemic motors that take 8-10 seconds to reach 60mph. Yet, they are fun to drive if they are driven, and tesla is especially fun to drive, but these people never drove them and most likely never heard of Tesla aside from Mitt Romney citing it as a failed “Obamacar” company in the 2012 debates.

    Marketers have their work cut out for them, and manufacturers need to make some trucks, SUVs (although I hate them, they are still reptilian popular) and especially affordable sport coupes to rehab the image.

    Manufacturers are Priusizing the EV market by not providing exiting cars. Why? The i3 may be fun to drive (as I have been told on these pages), but it isn’t gorgeous, like the 2017 M4 convertible. Even the Model S looks like a Jaguar mated with a Maserati. Nice car, but those 2 gassers are just slightly better looking than it.

    1. przemo_li says:

      Tesla used Jaguar project as starting point.

      Tesla X is probably first ground up vehicle they will make.

  7. Mister G says:


  8. Nix says:

    This pretty much just reflects how much EV’s have been politicized and polarized as part of mindless left vs. right politics.

  9. Nicholas says:

    Congrats! They found the results they wanted..convenient :/

  10. ClarksonCote says:

    “The entire study though is flawed because Continental allows responses from those who have no experience with electric cars”

    The study is not flawed, as much as I want it to be. To measure the public sentiment about nuclear power, one doesn’t need to own or have any experience with a nuclear plant. Same goes for EVs.

    Thankfully, as more and more people buy EV’s, sentiment will change as more and more people either experience one for themselves, or have direct interactions with those who own an EV.

  11. Loboc says:

    ELR is good looking. However, everyone I talk to about it says: “Cadillac makes an electric car?!?!”

  12. kdawg says:

    I know Europe likes to use those all-white-futuristic landscapes, but couldn’t they have at least colored the bushes green?

    1. przemo_li says:


  13. jim seko says:

    The only people who can afford plug in cars are those who can do math.

    1. Nix says:

      …. And could afford to buy a median priced new car in the first place (regardless of drivetrain).

      1. przemo_li says:

        Thx to starting gov. incentives used cars loose value faster then ICEs.
        (And battery health state fears help lower it even more)

        So You can buy used *EV for less.

        Some of those cars are more then 5y on market now. Plenty of opportunity to buy used ones.

    2. Rick says:

      And yet can conveniently ignore the fact that the battery costs about the same as 10 years of gas.

  14. Kaleb says:

    My friends are all surprised that a car-nut like myself has a LEAF, but after they drive it they understand. But that said I have a lot more fun driving a 6-speed manual VW GTI, Hyundai Genesis, Scion FRS or even a bottom of the line BMW 3-series. I would choose any of those for a romp on a mountain road over any EV currently made; but clearly I like EVs because I have one.

  15. QCO says:

    Although no one here wants to hear it, the study makes an important point about electric car desirability.

    Most of the affordable ones are round town transportation appliances that do not inspire. We need some convertibles, coupes, sporty configurations, even some interesting crossovers.

    Lets take the sporty case – BMW i8 punches the ticket, but at a very high price. Model S can perform, but it’s a 4 door family mobile. ELR looks great, but it’s become a costly orphan. Below the $40k mark there is nothing that could be considered sporty, coupe or convertible.

    If I wanted something sporty in that price bracket, I’d buy a MX-5 Miata before I considered anything electric on offer today.

    BTW, what happened to the Super Leggera??

    1. Speculawyer says:

      The Fiat 500e is a cute little EV. Granted, you have to like small cars but if you like small cars, the Fiat 500e can get converts.

      And the Volt (both old and new).

      1. QCO says:

        The 500e is interesting, but for that vast majority of people living in North America it is simply unavailable because it is a restricted market compliance car.

    2. BraveLilToaster says:

      So you’ve just noticed that first-generation early adopter products don’t cover the length and breadth of what the market wants?

      I see. 🙂

      1. Lensman says:


      2. Trace says:

        And now you know why this survey has the results it has.

  16. BraveLilToaster says:

    It makes me wonder why InsideEVs hasn’t noticed the Denki Cube yet…


    Even Nissan’s own marketing department is describing it as “the antithesis of traditional automotive style”. More like “the design department just got back from tripping balls for the past 3 years”.

    1. Speculawyer says:

      Oh just shoot me. They’ve taken ANOTHER car with the with the aerodynamics of a brick and made it electric. Ugh.

    2. QCO says:

      And that’s exactly the kind of uninspiring vehicle that helps to reinforce the conclusion found in this study!

      1. Trace says:

        Drop a few batteries into this and I’ll take one! Brazil gets the cool crossovers?


      2. Trace says:

        Or make the idX electric with a more powerful motor than the Leaf. Hell, it doesn’t even have to get to 60mph in 2 seconds. I’d be happy with 5.


    3. przemo_li says:

      That is car for Japan Youth.

      Do not try to understand it 😉

  17. ModernMarvelFan says:

    We need affordable performance EVs.

    Tesla is nice and good. But we need EVs to have better performance so it will get people’s heart pumping when they see them and drive them…

    1. BraveLilToaster says:

      Hmm. The first time anyone even thought to make a car like that after their early inception was around 1926, or about 30 years since the first cars were invented. The roadster format wasn’t remotely perfected for another 15 years after that.

      We’re only 5 years into a 6 or 7 year product cycle. Nobody can make a car that everyone thinks is awesome, and we’re still looking at the first mass-market products that a bit like the what the first cell phones were like.

      1. QCO says:

        Your analogies don’t fly… We’re talking about existing sport/coupe/convertible car formats with existing electric propulsion systems.

        For the most part, the current crop of electric appliances are not inspiring, which was the point made in the article.

        1. Lensman says:

          BraveLilToaster is entirely on point. Early gas guzzlers weren’t exactly reliable, nor high performance, either. They generally could not be driven for long distances without breaking down. It took decades for anything approaching the speed and reliability of modern cars to appear. (If you doubt this is true, just read about road trips in the Ford Model T!)

          As battery tech matures, EVs will gradually stop being severely limited in power, and we’ll start seeing a wider variety of vehicles, including some that are larger and more powerful; EVs with longer ranges and faster charge times.

          That’s what will move EVs out of the “early adopter” era, which is where we still are in 2015, as the survey in question accurately reflects.

          1. QCO says:

            Your assertions still don’t apply to the premise of the study, which is about having more aspirational configurations, none of which are constrained by the underlying technology.

            There are no technical limitations that prevent Tesla from making a coupe, or GM from making a Voltec crossover, or BMW from making a mini convertible…

          2. ModernMarvelFan says:


            You are just making excuses for the existing substandard EVs… That is exactly the point of the article.

            You seem to like to make excuses for anything that any EV makers have done.

    2. Speculawyer says:

      Yeah, I was disappointed when Chrysler pulled the plug (hehe) on the Dodge Circuit. That could have been sporty little EV that might have cost less than the Tesla Roadster.

  18. HVACman says:

    Suggested follow-up study. Take a select portion of the sample group. Loan them a Tesla or ELR for a week-long test-drive. Repeat the questions after the one-week test drive. Measure the change of opinion. Complimentary post-test grin-removing cream also probably should be provided to all volunteers.

  19. CherylG's_DirtyLittleSecret says:

    Or they’re too small to be of much use.

    1. Speculawyer says:

      I think that is often a problem more with the consumers than the cars as just about every car stuck in traffic has a single driver and no cargo to speak of.

  20. Bill says:

    The study is on target and I say that as someone who owns a Zero SR and C-Max Energi. I’ve always owned convertibles and won’t give up my remaining ICE until someone launches a stylish, affordable convertible that handles well. The point is that there are relatively few choices out there for those that value form as much as function. Chevy: How about a plug-in Camaro convertible to go alongside the new Volt?

  21. John says:

    The study isn’t really surprising to me, at least in the U.S. ICE vehicles are deeply imbedded in our culture and lifestyle, and changing that isn’t easy. For example, talk radio hosts in my area (heavily conservative) pretty much trash EVs as golf carts. Ignorant, yes, but pro-EV folks don’t have an equivalent microphone, at least not yet. Right now EVs are still in their infancy. Movement toward a sales and public opinion tipping point will likely speed up when we have affordable 200 mile EVs.

  22. przemo_li says:

    Flawed because?

    Only slide I do not see, but would wont to is split between owners of EVs, people who drove them, and others.

  23. Priusmaniac says:

    Next time let them choose the answers based on the trials of a Tesla Model S and a Toyota Yaris.

    You will sure get a different answer.

  24. Jack Alberts says:

    This study is not “flawed”. Perception of those who have no experience is more important is more informative to guiding the promotion of these vehicles to the general public than that of people who have already been inclined to try one.

  25. Francis L says:

    The fun fact here is that the eco-friendly is really debatable. Not that electric car arn’t greener than ICE (many studies prove that in any case, EV are greener than ICE). But, EVs are still cars, with most of the problem that come with it, like traffic, urban expansion, sedentary lifestyle, etc. Their cheap cost of use could even worsen those problems.

  26. twscrap says:

    Study is not flawed, and charts are not impossible to make sense of. They’re pretty easy to interpret actually. Bashing this study and it’s charts is no different than the anti EV crowd bashing EVs.

  27. Dominic says:

    Fun to drive????
    Just get me to my destination safely and economically.
    A vast majority of folks are hipmotized by car ads featuring horsepower and fun to drive pitches.
    The internal combustion engine replaced faster and more “fun to ride” horses.

  28. James says:

    Fun for me is cost free driving (solar panels on house) and going 4400+ miles on 14 gallons of gas otherwise.