Over the past 70 years, automotive companies have managed to develop their products into highly emotional consumer items. This emotionalisation has been so successful that for many people, vehicles convey a sense of self-worth and identification, complicating attempts by city officials to encourage people to shift from driving to more sustainable transport modes. This project seeks to look beyond the rational underpinnings of car ownership and to explore the emotional, often hidden determinants of car purchases.
The research focus is centred around the crucial decision-making moment linked to the purchase of a new vehicle. Based on existing and potential policy instruments within cities and metropolitan regions, this project aims to test opportunities for interventions to disrupt car purchasing intentions and instead offer a combination of mobility services, public and active transport.
The research brings together a wide range of disciplines to enable a novel approach to policy and behavioural transport studies, integrating insights from behavioural psychology, customer research, urban governance and transport policy. The ongoing pilot study focuses on gaining preliminary understandings of car ownership in London and urban Switzerland and attempts to measure emotional attachments to different transport modes in both study areas. The aim is to use these insights to form policy instruments to alter subjective attitudes towards private cars, improve the attractiveness of sustainable transportation modes, and ultimately, disrupt patterns of car purchasing.
Hügler, B., Flynn, R., Heeckt, C., da Cruz, N.F., Herrmann, A., Rode, P. (2023). What keeps us driving? Exploring sociodemographic patterns and underlying motives of mode choice in cities.