Study: Electric cars becoming more popular among drivers in Baltics

An electric vehicle charger.
An electric vehicle charger. Source: Mait Ots / ERR

According to the results of a recent survey, while at present, people in Estonian mostly drive gasoline or diesel cars, when considering their next choice of vehicle, many are looking to other options.

According to the survey commissioned by insurance firm If Insurance, 90 percent of Estonian drivers currently drive either gasoline or diesel cars. Ten percent of cars are powered by other types of engines, with the majority of these being hybrid or gas-powered. Only one percent of survey respondents said they currently drive an electric car.

However, when asked what type of car they would like to own next, it appears that people's preferences are shifting.

25 percent of respondents said they would like their next vehicle to be a diesel car, while 22 percent would prefer a gasoline car.

However, 17 percent of those surveyed expressed a preference for their next vehicle to be a hybrid one, with a further eight percent saying they would like an electric car next. An additional eight percent of respondents said they would like a plug-in hybrid vehicle, and two percent said they would want a car, which runs on liquified petroleum gas (LPG) gas or hydrogen.

The popularity of gasoline and diesel-powered cars is therefore declining, the insurance company said.

"Soon, nearly a fifth of the population will want to recharge their cars with electricity. It is noticeable that younger people are clearly less keen on diesel cars and keener on electric cars, when compared to older people," said Marion Meius, senior claims expert at If Insurance, in a press release.

At present, diesel engines are preferred in rural areas of Estonia, powering more than half of all cars there. However, in city centers, cars with gasoline engines are the most popular.

However, the responses to the question of what kind of car people in Estonia want to drive next show, that the preference for diesel cars in rural areas has fallen by a factor of two (to 32 percent), while in Tallinn, the preference for gasoline cars has fallen even further (to 24 percent). At the same time, an increased to desire to own an electric car is becoming evident. Nine percent of respondents in rural areas and seven percent in the Estonian capital saying they want their next vehicle to be electric. A similar trend is also seen in other regions of Estonia.

"It takes time to get used to any [new] technology, however, the broader trend is that people's interest in diesel and gasoline cars is declining. Gas is not seen as an alternative for the future, and its role is even declining, but people will increasingly want to have a hybrid engine or a car that can be charged electrically," Meius added.

While gasoline and diesel cars are used in Estonia in fairly equal numbers, diesel cars are much more popular in Latvia and Lithuania. In the south, there is clearly higher use of liquified petroleum gas (LPG) as a car fuel. However, people in Latvia and Lithuania also expressed a growing preference to have an electrically charged vehicle as their next car.

"Across the Baltics, there is a clear general movement towards electric vehicles. These choices are likely to be influenced by rising fossil fuel prices and the sustainability of electric vehicles, as well as the recent boom in small-scale solar power generation. Owners of solar panels installed in private homes probably see electric vehicles as an opportunity to reduce the payback period on their investments," explained Meius.

The survey, which was conducted by If Insurance in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, involved just over 1,000 people from each of the three countries.


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Editor: Michael Cole

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