The car, a necessary “luxury”, according to a study

It is a “luxury”, but a necessary “luxury”. Using your car is more and more expensive, but many drivers can’t see how they can do without it. This is according to the annual barometer of the Cetelem Observatory, a survey conducted in 18 countries and published on Thursday. For example, seven drivers out of ten believe that driving requires financial sacrifices. But they are just as many (75% in France) to declare that they cannot do without it.

Almost two-thirds of respondents also fear that they will no longer have the means to own a vehicle in the future, especially in Turkey, Mexico, Portugal or Brazil. This is also the case for 59% of the French. Motorists initially view this loss negatively, fearing that they will no longer be able to move as they wish. On the contrary, only 20% see it as a positive gesture for the environment.

Less travel and soft mobility

In addition, almost six out of ten people say they have already given up traveling because of the cost, especially in countries with the most fragile economies, such as Turkey or South Africa. To save money, a majority of French people say they are reducing their travel. 46% of motorists surveyed compare prices to buy the cheapest petrol, and 44% try to optimize their driving to consume less fuel.

A third of motorists also say that they travel more often on foot, by bicycle or by scooter. And from Germany to Brazil via France, more than every second person has abandoned one of the household vehicles or has decided to do so soon. Finally, those under 35 are more likely to do without a car altogether, with 34%, compared to 26% for the older generations.

An annual budget of more than 2,700 euros

“What does not fit is the cost of use”, emphasizes Flavien Neuvy, director of the Cetelem observatory. “Spending all the time at the checkout reinforces this very negative feeling. Motorists thus estimate their annual budget for the car (fuel, insurance, repairs) at 2,753 euros (2,870 euros in France), with petrol being by far the item considered to be the most expensive.

At the same time, the costs of insurance and maintenance are considered reasonable by a majority of households, even if they are increasing strongly. Similarly, the purchase price for cars is considered reasonable by many motorists, especially for the vast majority who buy on the second-hand market.

A trend that should accelerate with electric cars

On the new side, the price of cars has nevertheless risen sharply in recent years in the EU, twice as fast as inflation between 2000 and 2020. Buyers of new cars are thus becoming increasingly rare, up to 2% of French households in 2022. Buyers are in average 55 years, compared to 44 years in 1990.

With the spread of electric cars, which are more expensive than thermal cars, “the trend will accelerate over the next few years”, predicts Flavien Neuvy. “There is a risk that the car will become a luxury item, inaccessible, marginalizing the people who need it most in their daily lives,” warns the expert.

* This survey was conducted online from June 23 to July 8 by Harris Interactive among 16,600 people ages 18 to 65 using the quota method. 3,000 interviews were conducted in France and 800 in each of the other countries.

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