The Geography of Green Transportation

Analyzing consumer conversations in Europe and the United States to find where consumer interest for green transportation is highest

The race for green cars has really been heating up recently. After years of lofty promises, it finally seems like the green rubber is actually starting to hit the road. Tesla has already made a big dent in the EV market, and consumers appear to be along for the ride.

But is this true across the globe? Are consumers from different countries equally as committed to the green vehicle future?

Americans in particular are thought to be reluctant to trading in their gas-guzzling trucks for battery-powered sedans. Europeans, on the other hand, are often held up as green trailblazers.

Are these stereotypes based in reality? Is America really that far behind Europe? Understanding consumers’ appetites for green vehicles is essential for automotive brands that need to match supply and demand years in advance.

We wanted to find out so we analyzed millions of consumer conversations to see how the United States stacks up against European consumers by looking at:

  • Geographic interest in green vehicles
  • Geographic interest in bikes
  • Geographic interest in public transportation
  • Consumer qualms with green vehicles and how the United States can do better

Countries Hitting the Gas on Electric Cars

Green cars are one of the first things people think of when trying to reduce their carbon footprint. Cars are one of the environment’s biggest enemies, accounting for more than half the world’s oil consumption annually.

So, which countries are the most interested in green vehicles?

Looking at the conversation per capita in each country for electric or hybrid cars in the U.S. compared to the most populated countries in Europe, we see that the U.S. isn’t actually too far behind.

Germany’s auto industry is often praised as one of the clean-energy industry leaders, so it isn’t surprising that Germans also lead the eco-friendly vehicle conversation. Perhaps more surprisingly, Romania and Ukraine follow Germany’s lead in their interest in green vehicles, which aren’t often pegged as environmental countries in the same way Germany or Holland are.

Of course, EVs don’t exist in a vacuum — they are part of an interconnected transportation landscape. What can we learn about consumer interest in green cars by looking at the conversation about public transportation?

The Subway, the Metro, the Tube, Oh My

Not everyone likes public transportation, but it’s a necessary evil for many. However, some public transportation systems are incredibly efficient and reliable, while some cities are forced to deal with outdated, malfunction-prone systems.

Are Americans addicted to cars and private transportation? Some American cities are notorious for having outdated subway networks like Boston’s MBTA, or very inaccessible networks such as LA’s metro.

Compared to Europe, the United States is less interested in public transportation than many countries, and falls below their placement in the green car conversation.

Again, Germany tops the list with over 2,200 posts per million surrounding their public transportation networks. However, the Netherlands, France, the United Kingdom, Spain, and Italy all express more or equal interest in riding the subway. The only countries behind the United States are Russia, the Ukraine, Romania, and Poland.

Pedal to the Medal

Now biking is where the United States really falls behind. The United States is notorious for not sharing the road with bikers, not having protected bike lanes (or no bike lanes at all), and a general lack of interest in biking to get to where they need to go.

his time, the Netherlands leads the pack with over 2,100 posts per million. The Netherlands is arguably the most famously bike-friendly country in the world. There are more bikes in the Netherlands than Dutch citizens and they actually have a larger problem with bike congestion than traffic congestion.

Germany, Italy, Romania, Spain, and the United Kingdom all lead the United States, with Poland and France not far behind. The United States is about ⅓ as interested in bikes as the Netherlands and about half as interested as 2nd and 3rd ranked Germany and Italy.

Consumer Qualms with Going Green

So why doesn’t America stack up in the green conversation compared to the largest European countries?

By tracking American negative conversation, we can reveal why American consumers aren’t choosing more eco-friendly options at the same rate.

Turns out, Americans still see green vehicles as financially inaccessible, as well as limited in range.

Speed, although the least discussed main factor, still makes up 21% of the negative conversation in the United States.

American automotive companies could help close the gap by making electric and hybrid cars more accessible. This isn’t only accomplished by providing more affordable options, but also accomplished by more charging station options to help combat both the cost factor and the range factor that is driving American consumers away.

If you are interested in reading more about the transportation industry, download this report: Roads of the Future report

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