ETH Research Database
Important data on research projects at ETH Zurich: www.rdb.ethz.ch
Doctorate at ETH
The doctorate represents an essential component of the scientific work at ETH Zurich. Innovative, practice-related research is the key to its success.
"How do people buy fuel-efficient cars?"
2004 - 2007 (analyses of data still ongoing)
The purchase of fuel-efficient new cars is a decisive factor with regard to reducing energy consumption and CO2 emissions from road transport. To design effective measures that could change consumers` car purchase behavior and result in a reduced fuel consumption of newly registered cars, identification of the main parameters and processes driving consumers` decision-making is important. Models forecasting car choice and analyzing the effects of measures to change car choice behavior have focused primarily on sociodemographic differentiation among car buyers, if at all. Psychological variables such as beliefs, attitudes, or norms related to fuel-efficient cars, as well as symbolic motives (motives to express one’s self and one’s social position by means of one’s car) are rarely included. Furthermore, regarding individuals’ responses to policy measures, there is a robust and compelling body of evidence of the bounds to rationality of actual decision makers. Decision processes are often governed by heuristics, cognitive rules of thumb, rather than analytical deliberation.
This project is situated at the interface between natural and social sciences with the following goals:
This project uses i) survey data and ii) databases such as the Swiss vehicle certification database.
The survey data has been provided by a paper-and-pencil survey on mobility and car purchase behavior which we conducted in two waves with a sample of households living in the German- and French-speaking parts of Switzerland. This survey contained, among other items, questions about psychological factors, decision criteria and preferences, acceptance of and susceptibility to measures which are discussed in the context of rising fuel-consumption, vehicles owned by the household, and sociodemographic data.
The first wave was conducted in June 2005: two questionnaires, a so called base questionnaire and a retrospective life biography questionnaire, were sent out to a sample of 5890 households randomly chosen from the Swiss phone book. Both questionnaires of the first wave include questions on sociodemographic characteristics of the respondents and their household, on the vehicles owned by their household and on preferences for a next car purchase. The base questionnaire further contains questions on the importance of various decision criteria within car purchase, as well as questions on acceptance of and hypothetic reaction to measures to reduce energy consumption of road transport. The life history questionnaire further collects data on life events of the past 15 years which may influence car purchase and choice. The average response rate for the two surveys of the first wave reached 39.6% (2333 respondents).
The second wave was sent out in June 2006 to 1545 respondents (66.2% of the sample of the first wave) who were willing to participate again and still reachable under the address in our data base. The questionnaire of the second wave mainly includes questions on the psychological variables presented in Section 4.1. Additionally, changes in the vehicle stock of the household are surveyed. This questionnaire was sent back by 1150 respondents (74.4%).
For more details refer to (reports in German only):
(For the links to work properly, you or your institution need a subscription to the respective journal.)
Bundesamt für Energie (BFE)
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