COVID Boosts Non-public Automobiles Over “Sustainable Mobility”

COVID Boosts Private Vehicles Over “Sustainable Mobility”

Guest “silver lining to dark cloud” by David Middleton

Sep 29, 2020
Covid Causing Shift From Public Transport To Cars
Dave Keating
Contributor Energy

The Coronavirus pandemic is causing people to shun public transport in favor of private cars in Germany, according to a report from the German Aerospace Center.

In a survey conducted by the center’s Institute for Transport Research in June and July, half of respondents said they are using public transport less often or much less often. They identified fears of the health risk as the reason, and those fears haven’t subsided since the previous time the survey was taken in April.

Though some people have moved from public transport to clean individual transport such as bicycles, private cars have emerged as the “clear winner” of the shift, according to the report. By July, traffic in Germany had gone back to pre-crisis levels, according to an analysis of mobile network data.


Lenz says that while new work-from-home arrangements have lessened the need to commute to work, those journeys that people are making are more likely now to be done by private car if one is available. “Private vehicles have emerged as the clear winner during the crisis, while public transport has lost out. Sustainable mobility concepts such as car sharing have also weakened. We are now further from a mobility transition than ever, as strong public transport is necessary for its success. This should be the clear focus in future.”


An increase in private car ownership could make it hard for Germany to reach its emissions reduction commitments under the country’s Energiewende policy.


“The Chinese Communist Recession” caused US light vehicle sales to plummet as deeply and quickly as in “The Great Recession.” However the recovery from the bottom of “The Great Recession” back to an annual sales rate of 15 million vehicles took 3 years and 10 months. That degree of recovery has already been achieved from “The Chinese Communist Recession.”

Data from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

Unsurprisingly, the recovery in gasoline demand has paralleled the recovery in auto sales.

Data from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and US EIA.

Gasoline demand is now tracking the seasonal trend, only about 1 million bbl/d below where it should be… And many, if not most, of us are still working from home. It does not appear that COVID-19 will deliver a “sustainable mobility” miracle.

Oh… Don’t be looking to electric vehicles for any “sustainable mobility” miracles either.

Data from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and US DOE AFDC.

Over the past 9 years, PEV’s have only accounted for 1% of US light vehicle sales.

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