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Germans are Skeptical about Electric Cars, Autonomous Driving

Germans are Skeptical about Electric Cars, Autonomous Driving

Tuesday, 10 September, 2019 - 06:15
A staff member hooks up a charging cable to an electric vehicle (EV) at a charging station in Liuzhou, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China July 31, 2017. (Reuters)

A new survey in Germany found that a large number of Germans skeptical about the usefulness of electric cars and autonomous driving.

The survey, which was conducted by the consultancy firm Ernst & Young (EY) ahead of Frankfurt's International Motor Show, involved 2,500 adults. According to the German news agency, the report outlined major challenges that affect consumer willingness to use such cars, like range, costs and charging network.

A clear majority of the respondents find electric vehicles too impractical and too expensive. Nearly 64 percent of them said these cars are currently not an option for them, with 28 percent citing a too short range of current models as the main reason. Twenty-seven percent said it is the comparatively high purchase price, 13 percent for the small charging network and 11 percent for the long charging times.

The results also showed that 53 percent plan to next buy a gasoline or diesel car.

The report highlighted a similar opinion about autonomous driving. Many have mixed feelings driven by safety concerns, ethical issues or liability risks. Forty-nine percent of respondents do not want to sit in a fully autonomous car.

German carmakers Volkswagen and Ford Motor Co. have announced that they will jointly invest in an American company to develop a self-driving electric platform that will be integrated into their vehicles.

They plan to share an investment of more than $7 billion in Argo AI, based in Pittsburgh, and Pennsylvania. The move would save each company hundreds of millions of dollars of research and development related to autonomous electric vehicles.

During a press conference in New York, Ford's Executive Director Jim Hackett said the new deal founds one of the largest partnerships in the electric and self-driving technology industry.

He explained that Volkswagen Chairman Herbert Dees proposed cooperation shortly after he took command at Ford in May last year. Hackett admitted they both have a common view concerning the challenge of developing an autonomous car and believe they can "learn and make progress together."

Ford and Volkswagen will have an equal stake in Argo AI, with the two groups forming the majority, the companies said in a press release.

Argo AI will keep its focus on introducing a self-driving system that will be used in passenger trips and cargo delivery services in dense urban areas.

Dees said it was difficult to say how much the two companies would save, but with the technology sharing, they are expected to save $5 billion to $10 billion, and cost less for both of them. The two companies have also partnered in the bus and trucks industry earlier this year to reduce development costs.

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