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Survey: Growing interest in electric, hybrid cars in Finland

A poll suggests many are delaying car purchases amid uncertainty over future legislation.

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Cars with traditional combustion engines remain the most popular. Image: Nella Nuora / Yle

Finns are increasingly interested in electric, natural gas and hybrid cars, according to a survey commissioned by Danske Bank.

The poll suggests that 31 percent of Finns are prepared to buy an alternative-fuelled vehicle as their next car.

"Interest in electric, natural gas and hybrid cars has never jumped by this much in one year," says Danske Finance chief Altti Kuuri. The bank has carried out such annual barometer surveys since 2015.

This year's poll indicates particular growth in interest in hybrid vehicles, which supplement conventional combustion engines with electric motors.

Eighteen percent of respondents said they want to buy a hybrid next, compared to 12 percent who said they aim to buy diesel cars.

Five percent would opt for electric cars, with three percent preferring those running on natural gas.

Those polled cited three main factors limiting their interest in cars using lower-emission alternate propulsion systems: price, driving range and availability of charging or refilling points.

Petrol engine still tops

The survey results do not augur any rapid changes in the automotive market.

Well over than half of respondents, 54 percent, said it was quite or extremely unlikely that their next cars would be electric, natural gas or hybrid. More than four in 10 said that their next vehicles would run on traditional petrol.

The number of people thinking of buying a new vehicle remained steady at about one in five. These were mostly likely to be men, upper-level white-collar workers and high earners as well as students and parents of young children.

Of those planning to buy cars, 45 percent said they had put off a purchase decision because the political debate over treatment of various fuels and engine types has been confusing.

"Motorists need clear decisions from politicians as to whether there will be financial benefits linked to charging infrastructure or vehicles, for instance," Kuuri says.

The study was published on Thursday as election-winning Social Democratic Party chair Antti Rinne was trying to put together a new government coalition.

Some potential partners, such as the Greens and the Left Alliance, are calling for the next government to impose emissions-based taxation, subsidies and infrastructure upgrades to encourage the use of low-emission vehicles. Electric vehicles remain much rarer in Finland than in neighbouring Norway and Sweden, where they are heavily subsidised.

Pollster Taloustutkimus interviewed more than 1,000 Finns aged 21-79 for the study.

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