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Bosch aims to make transportation as resource-friendly as possible.
Bosch aims to make transportation as resource-friendly as possible.
( Source: Bosch)

DRIVE TECHNOLOGY Will variety be the future of powertrains?

Editor: Isabell Page

The market research institute Innofact on behalf of Bosch conducted a representative survey in June 2020 with 2,500 survey respondents in Germany, France, Italy, and the U.K. The result: no powertrain types have lost any of their relevance – whether batteries or fuel cells, gasoline or diesel engines.

If the respondents had to decide on a new car tomorrow, one in two would opt for a stand-alone combustion engine for their primary car and around one in three for their second car. However, when asked what would be the most prevalently used powertrain in 2030, some 68 % of those polled see the electrical powertrain in pole position, ahead of hybrids and combustion engines. Survey participants acknowledged the potential of fuel cell-powered cars, with around one in three seeing the fuel cell as the future of mobility. “Electric mobility is on its way – and that’s good news. This year alone, Bosch is investing 500 million euros in this domain. At the same time, we’re also continuously refining the internal combustion engine – because it’s still needed,” says Dr. Stefan Hartung, member of the Robert Bosch GmbH board of management and chairman of the Mobility Solutions business sector.

Incentives for all powertrain types

A further question reveals respondents’ open-mindedness toward powertrains of all types: when asked whether they favor incentives for vehicles equipped solely with combustion engines, in addition to the many government subsidies for electric cars and plug-in hybrids, 70 % of the Europeans polled answered in the affirmative. The number of respondents in favor of government incentives to buy new cars with a conventional powertrain is highest in Italy at 83 %, and lowest in the United Kingdom at 60 %. In France, 77 % are in favor; in Germany, 62 %. “Incentivizing modern combustion engines can accelerate the vehicle fleet’s renewal, which would also help the environment and the climate,” Hartung says. Just under one-third of Europeans would like to see this subsidy run to at least 9,000 euros. This is the same as the maximum rebate currently offered by the German government for the purchase of an electric car. Two findings are notable: for one, 72 % of city dwellers in the four surveyed European countries believe the combustion engine merits a subsidy. For the other, 80 % of 18-to-29 year-olds also endorse incentives for cars with combustion engines.

Even cars with conventional engines can run in a climate-neutral way. The key to this is renewable synthetic fuels (RSF), which are made from renewable hydrogen and CO₂ captured from the surrounding air. On average, 57 % of those taking part in the Bosch survey agreed that RSF should benefit from tax breaks. “There’s just no way around renewable synthetic fuels if we want to achieve our climate targets,” Hartung says. “Only with RSF can the more than one billion vehicles already on the road worldwide help contain global warming.”

The car is still important for the Europeans

In Europe, the status of the car and its importance for mobility is unlikely to change any time soon. Around 60 percent of those surveyed in Germany, France, Italy, and the U.K. are unable to imagine living without a car altogether. And a clear majority of the remaining 40 percent are only prepared to leave their car behind some of the time. The car’s approval rating in rural Europe is 77 %. Incidentally, these findings are roughly similar among 18-to-29 year-olds, around half of whom also come out clearly in favor of a car. While 61 % of those surveyed in Germany and 47 % in the U.K. cited greater flexibility as the most important reason for having a car, 41 % of French respondents indicated they need it mostly for work. In contrast, 55 % of surveyed Italians prefer the car to other forms of mobility that they feel are less convenient. “For the foreseeable future, the car will remain the number one means of transport – and has excellent prospects of becoming even more climate-friendly,” Hartung says. Bosch’s objective is for people to be able to stay mobile in an affordable and eco-friendly way.

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