For a long time, high purchase prices, scepticism regarding insufficient charging options and fear of inadequate battery performance were the main reasons why many people decided against buying an electric car. However, this year’s Swiss Mobility Monitor 2023 study by the University of Lucerne shows that switching to an electric vehicle is no longer a question of money or range, but rather of a lack of domestic charging infrastructure – as reported by people of all generations. Further analyses of the AutoScout24 online platform also confirm this statement. Because the public charging network in Switzerland is now well established, supply of efficient electric models is plentiful and demand is high. If the complete switch to electric mobility is to succeed, it seems that landlords and home owners will now play a vital role in this marathon.
Just ten years ago, the electric car occupied a niche market. Battery performance was poor and charging was tedious, due to the scarcity of public charging stations. At the same time, people had to dig deep into their pockets for an electric vehicle. According to analyses of the AutoScout24 online platform, in 2018 a new Tesla Model 3 cost an average of CHF 79,054, for example. That’s around 20% more than in 2022 (average price CHF 60,967). And in 2013, you could pay well over CHF 50,000 for a BMW i3 with a battery output of 22 kWh, which is meagre by today’s standards. ‘Apart from the fact that there was initially no familiarity with the technology, factors such as price and range have deterred many people from buying an electric car in recent years,’ says Alberto Sanz de Lama, Managing Director of AutoScout24. However, these are no longer the main reasons, as shown by the Swiss Mobility Monitor 2023 analyses. This representative, Switzerland-wide study by the University of Lucerne, which was carried out together with its study partners AutoScout24, Zurich Insurance and the University of St. Gallen, examined the use of electric cars and the reasons for switching to these, among other things. According to this: ‘Domestic vehicle charging options were classified as the most important aspect overall when switching to an electric car – as reported by people of all generations,’ says Reto Hofstetter, who led the study at the University of Lucerne.
Lower prices are important for Generation Z, while baby boomers are less price-sensitive
Unlike domestic charging options, other aspects that would motivate drivers to switch to an electric car were rated differently by the different generations. Generation Z considers a lower price to be almost equally important as domestic charging options, for example. This comes as no surprise to Reto Hofstetter: ‘Buying a car is the second most expensive investment most people make, after buying a property. So you need to have a certain amount of savings before you can afford an electric car. For Generation Z this requirement is not usually met.’ These aspects are followed by a longer range and a better developed public charging infrastructure for Generation Z. However, Generations Y, X and baby boomers regard a better public charging infrastructure as the second most important reason for switching to an electric car, after domestic charging options. Although they consider a longer range to be almost equally important. Lower prices are less relevant for them, with baby boomers being the least price-sensitive of the generations.
Public charging infrastructure and supply of electric cars on track
The number of public charging stations in Switzerland is increasing and the charging network continues to grow. According to Swiss eMobility, the number of public charging stations rose by 29% (+556 charging points) in 2022 compared to the previous year. And in terms of supply, the market share of all-electric cars among newly registered passenger vehicles has steadily increased in recent years, reaching 17.8% in 2022 according to Auto Schweiz. New electric car registrations have therefore doubled in two years. In addition, an electric vehicle was the best-selling car in Switzerland for the second consecutive time. ‘This market ramp-up and the growing popularity of electric cars are also reflected on AutoScout24,’ says Alberto Sanz de Lama. While around 1,100 all-electric vehicles were advertised on the online platform in Q1 2018, this figure was over 16,900 in Q1 2023 – i.e. around 15 times as many as five years ago.
One in six new cars on AutoScout24 is electric
The semi-conductor shortage and delivery delays have affected production of new electric cars in particular over the last two years. The delivery situation in the automotive sector is slowly improving, however, which is also having a positive impact on supply of new electric vehicles at AutoScout24. The supply of new electric cars has been improving again since July 2022: in Q1 2023, around 7,300 new all-electric vehicles were advertised on the online platform. This means that one in six new cars on AutoScout24 is now electric. In Q1 2023, the five most frequently advertised new electric cars were the Fiat 500, Hyundai Ioniq 5, VW ID.4, Renault Mégane and Volvo XC40.
Luxury electric brands dominate the second-hand market
Not only is there a growing number of electric cars in the new car segment – slowly but surely, the second-hand market is also experiencing an electric boom. The rise in new electric cars is leading to a subsequent increase in the supply of used electric vehicles. Although supply remains modest, accounting for just 4% of all second-hand vehicles advertised on AutoScout24 in Q1 2023, it is growing steadily and becoming more diverse. Upon closer inspection of supply on AutoScout24, the around 10,000 used electric cars advertised are mainly electric luxury brands. In Q1 2023, the five most frequently advertised used electric cars were the Tesla Model 3, Audi e-tron, Skoda Enyaq iV, Tesla Model S and BMW i3.
The Fiat 500 is the most popular electric car
In terms of demand, interest in electric cars is also growing. Searches specifically for electric cars on AutoScout24 have more than tripled within two years. The Fiat 500 clearly leads the ranking of most searched electric cars on AutoScout24. This is followed by the Hyundai Kona in second place with around half as many searches. The Volvo XC40 was in third place, followed by the Renault Mégane and Peugeot 208.
The fact remains: landlords and home owners are the principal catalysts
Despite better public charging infrastructure, increased supply and greater popularity of electric vehicles, Switzerland is still lagging behind other European countries when it comes to e-mobility. According to statistics from the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (AEAC), Switzerland was in ninth place in 2022 – as measured by the number of new plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) registrations. Alberto Sanz explains this ranking as follows: ‘Switzerland doesn’t have any nationwide subsidies for buying an electric car. Every canton, town and city has different rules for this. We also need to remember that Switzerland is a country of tenants. And currently, tenants do not have a right to domestic charging. Often, they are not free to decide to install a charging station, but have to rely on the goodwill of their landlord.’ It is clear to him that without a convincing strategy for installing domestic charging points, many of Switzerland’s residents are likely to remain sceptical and the complete switch to e-mobility will take longer.
About the Swiss Mobility Monitor 2023
The University of Lucerne, together with its study partners, AutoScout24, Zurich Insurance and the University of St. Gallen, conducted its Swiss Mobility Monitor survey for the second time. The study examines how receptive the Swiss population is to new forms of mobility, such as e-mobility, car sharing and buying a car online, for example, and to what extent they use these.
Data basis of the AutoScout24 analyses
As well as the Swiss Mobility Monitor 2023, electric car supply data from 2018 to 2022 and in Q1 2023 on autoscout24.ch was also examined. Supply data was segmented according to new and used electric cars. In terms of search behaviour, the analysis included specific user searches for electric cars on autoscout24.ch made via a computer or smart device in 2021, 2022 and Q1 2023.