In this article, we focus on car preferences and the future of these vehicles through an online survey conducted on the questia.ro platform. The research study was active between July 3rd and July 4th 2018 and covered 500 respondents, with a +/- 4% margin of error when reported to the Romanian online population.

Overview

I personally first saw flying cars in The Jetsons and I remember how amazed I was by how the characters from this cartoon traveled. I was constantly trying to imagine when I would get the chance to see and experience something like that in real life. Are flying cars close to happening or will they be just a childhood dream?

The Jetsons; Image source

The automotive industry has so far blurred the social class distinctions, expanded markets and stimulated the economy. Many people wonder what the future of the urban car ownership is. There are many contrary speculations regarding this topic, some of them claiming that car possession will drop by 80% by 2030 while others state this is not going to happen at all.

According to Forbes and Business Insider, it is believed that in the future, many car owners would rather opt for renting self-driving cars owned by ride-sharing companies. On the other side, the endowment effect defined by Kahnemann says that people are very attached to their possessions or their private cars in this case. “People will persist in having private cars rather than have to wait for an autonomous vehicle”, Forbes article reports.

The future is expected to be filled with shared, driverless, electric vehicles as Slate reports that these are the three disruptive technologies that will transform our transportation system. However, even though electric cars sales increased in the past year, analysts believe these vehicles are “too expensive and impractical to compete with the standard automobile—not just today, but for decades to come”.

One disruptor that has already changed the assumptions on how cars are used is the “new mobility”. Take for example companies like Uber, Taxify, Lyft, Bla Bla Car, Kakao, etc. According to Slate, “cars sold in America sit parked more than 95% of the time”, making me wonder why would you invest in a car that you are not going to use most of the time? The reason seems to be hidden in the fact that people are attached to private cars.

Autonomy is another disruptor. Forbes reports that even though there is a theory that when every car is driverless, there will be no road congestion, this theory is false as 40% of congestion comes from bottlenecks (too many cars on the road). However, one major advantage is that the autonomous cars won’t produce as many accidents or at least accidents that are not as severe as human-driven cars.

By 2040, it is believed that petrol and diesel engines will be banned, we will have fully autonomous driving, fewer car accidents, vehicle-to-vehicle communication, powerful virtual assistants and many more features as The Guardian reports. However, it seems that anything is possible in terms of new technologies that will benefit our future cars, “except flying cars - we’re never getting those”, as Digital Trends.

Trading Economics states that car registration in Romania decreased by 12.4% in the first quarter of 2018 from the fourth quarter of 2017. Furthermore, Statista shows that from 2007 until 2013 the car sales in Romania were on a continually descending trend but it seems that car sales have started to increase in the last couple of years. Moreover, Eurostat reports that in 2016, Romania had the lowest number of passenger cars per inhabitant in the EU, with 261 cars per 1000 inhabitants.

According to export.gov, Romania has some of the least developed road infrastructure from Europe. Romania had 86.099 km of public roads at the end of 2017 from which 20.5% were national roads, 40.8% were county roads and 38.7% were communal roads. “Out of the total length of national roads, 35.1% (6,200 km) were European roads and 4.3% (763 km) were highways. By the number of lanes, 1.6% of were three-lane roads, 10.3% were four-lane roads and 0.1% were six-lane roads.”

Results

The large majority of our respondents own a car (80.7%), mainly a small one (55% of users are driving small cars: 31.6% own hatchback cars, 20.5% sedan cars and almost 3% coupe cars) while over a quarter (25.6%) drive bigger cars such as minivans, trucks, break, SUV, or crossover cars.

Over half of the car owners (58.2%) drive petrol cars, while diesel fuel is used to a lower degree (38.9%). However, it seems that in Romania the market for hybrid and electric cars is relatively small (at least yet) as the percentage of users who use such cars isn’t statistically significant. According to Romania Insider, one in three Romanians believe that electric cars are too expensive, even though 61% thought of making such an acquisition. Furthermore, 14% say they won’t buy such a car because they prefer conventional cars, while 13.1% believe it takes too long to charge an electric car.

Most users preferred to buy the vehicle second hand from Romania (44.2%) while buying a second-hand car from abroad was preferred to a lesser extent (19.4%). Almost a quarter of respondents chose to buy the car first hand, with cash. According to Business Review, in 2017 there were over 518.000 registration on imported second-hand cars in Romania and this boom is due to the elimination of the environmental tax at the beginning of last year.

We then asked our respondents what type of car they would like to own. Over a quarter of users (35.5%) said they would like a SUV, followed by hatchback with 22.2% and sedan with 15%.

Awareness on the Volkswagen emission scandal is high. It is reported that 11 million VW vehicles had a defeat device in its engines that could detect when the cars were being tested so that it reduced its emissions in order to improve the emission tests results. In reality, the car was emitting up to 40 times more pollution than emission standards allow. The New York Times explained how the technology works and how it affects the drivers.

Apparently, respondents were not influenced by this subject or perhaps they are just very attached to this brand as most of them said their favorite car producer is Volkswagen Group (Volkswagen by 16.9% is the most popular, Audi by 9.6%, Skoda by 5.5%) followed by Group Renault (Dacia by 13.6% and Renault by 5.9%).

Most of our respondents believe that the electric and hybrid cars are the cars of the future. According to Statista, the global market for electric vehicles reached about 83.5 billion US dollars in 2012 and is expected to grow up to 271.67 billion US dollars until 2019 with a CAGR of 19%.

A little over half of the respondents (52.2%) said they thought to buy an electric vehicle or are at least taking this into consideration. Romania Insider reports that almost 30% of Romanians plan such an acquisition in the next 2-3 years while only 10% may buy an electric car in the next year. More than a quarter (32%) would make such an acquisition due to the advanced technology and increased performance compared to a conventional car. The Rabla Plus program might also influence this decision as the state offers 10k Euros for buying an electric car and 4.500 Euros for purchasing a hybrid vehicle.

When buying a new vehicle, people take into consideration safety as the primary filter for the purchasing decision, followed by fuel consumption, price and maintenance costs.

What seems to be not so relevant are the size of the car and the environmental impact.

If you want to keep being up to date with the latest trends, subscribe to our newsletter.

Don’t foreget to follow us on Facebook and on LinkedIn.