According to a current survey commissioned by the German Energy Agency (Dena), the majority of respondents vote against a phase-out of petrol- and diesel-powered vehicles if they are run on e-fuels.

Although the numbers of new registrations, especially battery electric vehicles, are increasing and the topic is a prominent issue among the public, only just over a quarter (29 per cent) of respondents would opt for an electric vehicle when buying a new one. This was the result of a survey conducted by the Forsa Institute for Social Research and Statistical Analysis on behalf of the German Energy Agency (Dena). One fifth would choose a hybrid vehicle and 23 per cent a petrol-driven vehicle.

According to Dena, this means that the German Federal Government’s goal of putting around 15 million electric vehicles on German roads by 2030 cannot be achieved. Above all in rural areas, the willingness to purchase a battery-powered vehicle is even lower. In order to achieve a sustainable market ramp-up of electric vehicles, the expansion of the charging infrastructure must be secured in addition to the subsidy policy – not only in Germany, but all over Europe.

The survey results on the topic of “synthetic fuels” – also known as e-fuels – are particularly noteworthy however.

Provided that the fuel is produced synthetically using renewable energies, 60 per cent of the survey participants consider a passenger car operated in this way as environment-friendly. The verdict is even clearer when it comes to a current legislative proposal by the EU Commission, according to which only zero-emission passenger cars are to be newly registered from 2035 onwards. However, the EU commissioners have so far only considered the emissions that occur directly through the exhaust and therefore only recognise battery-powered cars as emission-free. The emissions caused, for example, by electricity production, almost one third of which currently originates from coal-fired power plants in Germany, are disregarded.

63 per cent of the respondents reject a phase-out of cars powered by combustion engines if they can run on environment-friendly synthetic fuels. This aversion to the EU plans is particularly marked in rural regions – with a share of 76 per cent.

There is no majority for the CO2 tax levied on fossil fuels since the beginning of 2021 either. Once again, respondents from rural regions are more opposed to the price increase (64 per cent) than those living in urban regions (55 per cent). This is not surprising. For the argument that the CO2 tax should make refuelling with fossil fuels less attractive and thus promote climate protection in the transport sector is least convincing precisely where the private car is most needed and the charging structure for e-cars is least developed.

Since the survey was conducted in December 2021, it can be assumed that support for the additional CO2 levy on top of the fuel price will continue to decline in view of the further sharp increase in prices at the pump. Even at the time of the survey, 27 per cent of the participants stated that they would use their cars less if fuel prices were to increase. At a price of per litre of 2.50 Euros or more, a further 23 per cent want to use their car less or switch to an e-vehicle. Seventeen per cent, however, cannot or do not want to do without their car even if fuel prices continue to rise.