New study: Only three in ten Spanish people are aware of the different technologies available for decarbonizing transport

The Repsol Foundation Energy Transition Education and Research Program at the Polytechnic University of Madrid and the Corell Foundation presented today the main conclusions of the study conducted by GAD3 to find out the general population’s perception and awareness of new mobility technologies in road and urban transport.
Citizens facing new light vehicle technologies

One of the greatest challenges in today’s society is to promote technologies for reducing CO2 emissions in transport and moving forward in our journey to net zero emissions. Nevertheless, only 60% of the population knows about the technology behind electric cars, while a mere 30% is aware of other technological alternatives for cutting down on emissions in transport, such as renewable fuels and hydrogen. This is one of the main conclusions of the Study on perceptions and opinions regarding new mobility technology in road transport, carried out by the GAD3 demoscopic institute in collaboration with the Repsol Foundation Energy Transition Education and Research Program at the Polytechnic University of Madrid (UPM) and Corell Foundation, with the support of Anfac, Faconauto and Sernauto.

Another conclusion from the report was that 50% of the population puts off making the decision to purchase a new car due to a lack of clarity with regard to the mobility technologies available and the current regulations that apply, with a rise in intentions to instead purchase second-hand vehicles. In this regard, a higher percentage of the younger generations intend to buy a second-hand car and are less inclined to purchase a new vehicle.

This study demonstrates that, despite current regulations and the efforts by most manufacturers to back the move to electric vehicles, the purchase decision by the general public is not quite there yet, resulting in a drop in fleet renewal speeds, the average age of which is 13, and a slowdown in the reduction of CO2 emissions in transport.

These data reveal a need to inform, pulge and clarify certain concepts with the general public regarding mobility technologies.

The study was presented today in the Polytechnic University of Madrid with participation from sector experts and the presence of the Spanish Secretary of State for Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda, Isabel Pardo de Vera; the Dean of the Polytechnic University of Madrid, Guillermo Cisneros Pérez; the president of GAD3, Narciso Michavila; the Vice-President of the Repsol Foundation, António Calçada; Spain’s General Secretary of Industry and Small and Medium Business, Galo Gutiérrez Monzonís; and the Director of the Technical School of Industrial Engineering and of the Repsol Foundation Energy Transition Education and Research Program at the Polytechnic University of Madrid, Óscar García.

The aim of the study was to identify society's level of awareness regarding the issues caused by transport emissions, people’s familiarity with the different technologies being developed to reduce those emissions, how all of that is affecting people’s decision-making processes when it comes to purchasing a vehicle, and the current situation of the automotive industry.

The study also intends to clarify concepts and spread awareness about sustainable mobility, from an academic standpoint and with a focus on technological neutrality. It is essential for people to know the importance and the impact of the energy transition and decarbonization, and so efforts should be made to encourage a rigorous debate based on science and knowledge regarding all of these matters that are of enormous relevance for the future of the planet and society in general.

Data shows that 64% of the population is unaware of the possibility of a combustion engine with very low or even zero net CO2emissions by using renewable fuels. These fuels can already be used in current vehicles, making use of existing refueling and distribution infrastructures. This will be a necessary addition to the electrification of the transport sector, broadening the range of low-emission mobility technologies, and giving consumers the freedom to choose what best suits their specific needs.

The study also shows there to be a great lack of awareness concerning the environmental impact of the electric car: 50% of Spanish people are not aware of the fact that electric cars generate CO2 emissions during production and that the electricity they use is not renewable.

The majority of Spanish society does not know where renewable hydrogen comes from, which is one of the major energy vectors for transport in the medium and long term. While 35% does not know where it comes from, 37% is not aware that hydraulic, wind and solar energy are sources of renewable hydrogen.

With regard to the industry and people’s purchase decisions, the study revealed that Spanish people would spend more money on a car that has a lower environmental impact, with the electric car being the option chosen by most. Nevertheless, when it comes to making a purchase decision, this awareness appears to plummet and the potential buyer instead values more the consumption, the size, the brand, the design, the extras, and the price of fuel and the energy the vehicle is expected to use.

Furthermore, the study reveals that only eight in ten Spanish people claim to be very or quite aware of CO2 emissions in transport, while 87% of the population mistakenly believe that CO2 emissions are a danger to health, and only 30% of those surveyed claim to be fully aware of the meaning of the term “net life cycle emissions”.

About the Repsol Foundation Energy Transition Education and Research Program

The Sustainable Mobility Education and Research Program at the Polytechnic University of Madrid is focused on understanding the carbon footprint created by mobility, improving air quality, and analyzing emerging technologies.

As part of its strategy to promote scientific knowledge on the subject of the energy transition, the Repsol Foundation has several education and research programs across a network of renowned universities. The network is made up of the University of Barcelona, focusing on CO₂ capture, use, and storage systems; Comillas University-ICA, where the education and research program analyzes ways to sustainably decarbonize industry using carbon footprint and product life cycle analysis; the University of Navarra’s School of Engineering (Tecnun), focused on the role of hydrogen as an energy vector; and the program with the University of the Basque Country, which focuses on the circular economy.

About Corell Foundation

The Corell Foundation is a non-profit organization that has been promoting safe, economically sustainable and environmentally responsible mobility since 1997. Since 2017, the foundation has been sponsoring the Mobility Think Tank, which is a group of experts dedicated to the study of mobility transformation in all its forms.