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Worries of car drivers and how they differ by country

by Claudia Gaspar , 15.05.2015

It may be a status symbol or a means to an end, an office on four wheels or a family car – the car fulfills so many functions for us humans and is still a bestseller worldwide, despite fluctuating markets. Globally there were more than 70 million new car registrations last year alone, and the number is still rising. Yet, however great the enthusiasm for driving may be at times, the person behind the wheel does have one or two worries. Drivers’ concerns vary from country to country. At least in terms of numbers, the Brazilians are the world champions at worrying, and most frequently come top in the evaluation of individual aspects.

Safety issues: US citizens dread breakdowns, and the Russians, accidents

While across all countries almost one in three are worried about their safety because of aggressive driving by other road users, in Russia this was only an issue for 22% of respondents. Americans are the least concerned about damage to a parked car (14%). They see problems more when they are on the road, namely in the form of breakdowns, which give 38% of Americans, and therefore more people than elsewhere, a headache. Russian drivers, in particular, dread being involved in an accident where people might be injured, with one in two respondents saying that they are worried about this in light of the large number of accident victims recorded year after year.

Car costs: Germans worry about fuel prices

As we know, stopping at the gas pump is not one of the highlights of the motoring experience. However, in recent months the Germans, at least, have reason to be happy: gas prices have dropped appreciably. What should have made itself felt in their wallets has evidently not quite sunk in to Germans’ heads yet, as 43% still worry about the cost of gas, oil and fuel - despite falling prices. In the car boom country of China, this is an issue for the fewest respondents (27%). Besides gas costs, US citizens also have maintenance and repair costs on their minds, with 38% citing this as a worry.

Infrastructure: Challenges for China and Russia

Chinese respondents are as concerned about infrastructure and road conditions as they are relaxed about the subject of costs. In China, the annoying search for a parking space throws one in four off balance, while one in five is sometimes concerned about the difficult road layout.

Well-being in the car: lack of comfort concerns Brazilians

Seats with a massage function or a bed area on the back seat, flat screens and hi-tech communication systems – these are just a few points on the list of interior options for luxury cars such as Mayback and Co. Most of us can only dream about so much comfort, but the Brazilians, in particular, think that driving could be a little more comfortable. They see uncomfortable seats and lumbar supports (18%), along with irritating engine and ventilation noises (11%), most frequently as a challenge when driving. In China, on the other hand, car sickness is the main concern (13%), although here and in Russia, the UK and the US drivers are overall least concerned about issues related to well-being in a car.

So, unadulterated driving pleasure does not always await whoever is behind the wheel, whether on the road in Europe, the US, Russia or South America. It remains to be seen how drivers‘ worries will develop in the future when there will be even more traffic on the already crowded roads. Maybe at least some of the most pressing challenges for drivers, for example, on the subject of safety, will be reduced through various initiatives. This could be better road layouts, traffic controls or bans on alcohol at the wheel, or with new automobile concepts. GfK Automotive tested 7 car concepts with global consumers, which is available in the “Connected Car“ study.

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This article is an extract of the latest GfK Compact focus topic. Read the full version here.

GfK Compact is an information service of the GfK Verein. It provides reports from the multi-faceted GfK pool on the latest research highlights. Focustopics present survey and panel results from consumer research in selected short articles.

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