Driving for Green: Poll answers for Q1

By Jonathan

In my last post Driving for Green: a mini poll I asked you if you would answer 4 simple questions on our future car, i.e. the eco car. I got over 200 answers from you, our devoted readers, thank you!!

So this is the first of 4 posts where I’m going to present the results of each question one by one…here we go with question no. 1:

Would you be willing to pay more for a “greener” car?

What’s interesting here is that almost 70% of you are willing to pay more for your car if it’s greener, that’s a lot! Whilst a full 30% do not want to pay more.

This brings me to the additional comments you made:

  • Yes you’d pay more, but you’d need to be able to recover the costs (fuel & maintenance) during the life of the vehicle. Hey, I can relate to this, I’d love to be more ecologic but I simply can’t afford to do everything that’s needed today.
  • Yes you’d pay more, if the car is cool!
  • Yes you’d pay more, but it depends on the car’s performance.
  • Eco cars may not only look different to today’s car but may also be used differently. Some say that the revolution is car sharing, whilst others believe that we should use electric bicycles and scooters instead.
  • Cars can be both eco and affordable if extras are reduced.

Let’s take each point and dig deeper:

Cost recovery: It’s relatively easy to make an estimation on the money you’d save in burning less fuel with efficient plug-in cars. This is why advanced diesels in Europe are very popular and why hybrids are becoming more and more popular in the USA & Japan in spite of their higher prices. What is much more difficult is knowing that your expensive car will live up to its eco credentials. For example, there is still a lot of debate on the Prius’ total CO2 contribution from manufacture, use and disposal/recycling. This debate shouldn’t exist, all this information should be transparent, but today there is no carbon database for consumer products. This is a critical topic for Dassault Systèmes in order to provide sustainable solutions not only to our customers but their customers, i.e. you.

A cool product: A desirable product, making sense to you, easy to use, honoring you as an individual. In other words making you feel great! It’s becoming more and more clear that in order for the general public to make this change from the products they buy to how they use them, the products are going to have to make a statement! Style and design will be critical – but how can the stylists and designers collaborate quickly and effectively with those pesky engineers who always want to change things?

Performance: Does this mean raw acceleration or simply getting from A to B in the quickest manner? Reminds me of the Tortoise and the Hair fable. Good acceleration is fun, and can sometimes be a safety factor to avoid some incidents but when I’m in a train dynamics aren’t part of my criteria – all I want to do is get to my destination as quickly and comfortably as possible. So control systems in the car and for the road infrastructure are very important to improve the passenger experience helping acceptance of our new mobility – this is part of our Mobility 2.0 theory – whilst of course improving our carbon footprint.

Car usage: today my route to work consists of taking the train for 40 minutes then cycling for 20 minutes (up a big hill!).  I feel proud that my journey is emitting very little CO2. But I do wonder if the roads were totally congestion free would I take the easy option and take my car with a total journey time of 35 minutes? I probably would. So, although we all know that having flexible solutions for weekday and weekend cars I still can’t figure out how we are going to accept and embrace this new model of car usage – perhaps by force with tradeable energy quotas but I’ll go into that in another post.

Reduce extras: But are your extras the same as my extras? Car manufacturers would love to be able to sell bespoke cars to their customers but the costs are too high, why?  Can the customer requirements be sufficiently managed, can the design office provide enough solutions, can the simulation department manage all the use cases, can the manufacturing department simulate the production of the different configurations and then go and make the bespoke car on a flexible production line? Generally they find this very difficult, but interestingly the truck sector does this – about every 1.5 truck is unique! Configuration & requirement management is very important for them.

But, I hear you say, what about the 30% of people who don’t want to pay more for a “greener” car? To be honest I’m surprised that it’s not a higher percentage. I’m an eco-warrior and I’m not sure that I’d pay more, but then again I’ve never bought a new car. It’s more than evident that the car manufacturer who manages to deliver a product that emits ultra low pollution and CO2, and is manufactured with recyclable materials whilst not hiking up the retail costs will win considerable market share.

Stay tuned for my post on the second question…

Sustainably yours,
Jonathan




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2 responses to “Driving for Green: Poll answers for Q1”

  1. Carol Jackson says:

    Your analysis of performance as a factor omitted any consideration of feedback. My husband bought a Prius last year, & although many cars now offer immediate, continuous feedback on gas consumption, this was the first car of his that had done so. It has changed how he drives — he strives to keep the mileage up (he has long commute, so I suspect it’s kind of game), rather than pull away from a stoplight as fast as possible.

    When we bought the Prius, we did assume that — for a variety of reasons — the cost of oil would continue to rise & we would recoup the extra cost in the long run. Due to the recession, this may not happen. We also reasoned, however, that new technologies will not continue to be developed unless people buy them, so we can live without having the extra cost returned to us in the form of savings as long as that social benefit occurs.

    Re: your surprise that only 30% are not willing to pay more for a green car
    You took a survey among (mostly) high-tech workers — don’t you think the survey is grossly skewed to early adapters of technology?

  2. Jonathan says:

    Carol,

    Thanks for your comments.

    I completely agree about the Prius’ continuous fuel consumption feedback, it really does motivate people to strive for better economy. FIAT have a similar thing “eco:Drive“, it’s a computer application that reads your driving style and not only tells you how much fuel you’ve used but also gives you recommendations on how to improve.

    Recovering the initial investment of hybrid cars is always a touchy subject, it of course depends on how long you keep the car, the price of fuel (which is low for the moment) and your personal beliefs in helping the environment. The pride you have in owning a car that has less impact is worth the money in my book – if you’re lucky enough to afford it that is, thankfully there are early adapters like you.

    Jonathan

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