Is the car too expensive?

With the price of fuel, insurance contributions and the overall cost of vehicle maintenance rising, owning a vehicle in France requires an average budget of €2,870 per year. A real financial sacrifice for 73% of French people questioned during this large international survey conducted by Harris Interactive for the Cetelem Observatory from June 23 to July 8, 2022 in 18 countries: South Africa, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, China , Spain , United States, France, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Norway, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, United Kingdom and Turkey. A total of 16,600 people were interviewed online, including 3,000 in France and 800 in each of the other countries.

So, according to the Cetelem Observatory, despite this substantial budget, 75% of French people still say they cannot do without their vehicle, even though 4 out of 10 French people under 35 imagine themselves living without it.

Faced with the high cost of mobility and a tight budget, drivers are scrambling to limit spending: 6 out of 10 people say they have given up on traveling because of the cost involved. And if they do not abandon their vehicle, they are also 60% in total and 68% in France to implement measures to limit expenses related to the use of their vehicle.

First, efforts are focused on reducing fuel costs. A consensus that obtained 65% of the votes in the average of the 18 countries observed, far ahead of the other spending items: maintenance (28%), parking costs (26%), insurance (21%), highway driving (20% ). In France, after fuel (67%), the reduction in scores linked to tolls comes in second (37%). Among the main measures taken to contain fuel spending, the majority (54%) say they are reducing their trips, 46% compare prices to buy gasoline at the lowest price and 44% try to optimize driving to consume less fuel.

While drivers are generally prepared to make financial efforts, they expect action from public authorities and manufacturers. A tariff shield on fuel prices is favored by 52% of respondents (in France, the rural population is 67% to push for this measure), a reduction in taxes by 38%. But also measures to develop public transport (23%) or aid for the purchase of electric vehicles (21%). In the same logic, 63% are in favor of the development of more economical vehicles by car brands.

For their daily trips, 1 in 2 French people systematically use their car, the highest proportion in Europe after Germany (51%) and the UK (52%). It should be noted that the melting pot between rural and urban areas is significant, with an average across the 18 countries studied being 56% for people living outside large cities compared to 35% for city dwellers in metropolitan areas.

Among all these numbers, perhaps the most alarming is this: 59% of French people simply fear that they will no longer be able to buy a vehicle in the future. With the storage of thermal vehicles, currently scheduled for 2035 for new vehicles, and now for some vehicles banned from ZFEs, and while 7 out of 10 people have given up on buying an electric vehicle due to its cost considered too high, the risk of exclusion is , therefore, a reality.

“This 2023 edition of the Cetelem Observatory shows that drivers are not prepared for the car, whatever the cost. Electricity can be a way, but not at any price. Today, the way things are, there is a risk that an economic and social division will be created around the automobile, alienating the people who need it most in their daily lives. An even wider divide between those who would have the financial resources to access electricity and those who would watch the innovation vehicle go by without having the means to enter it.” so concludes Flavien Neuvy, Director of the Cetelem Observatory.

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