VAB: ‘One in two goes on holiday by car, but only 4.2% electric’

With the start of the holiday season in sight, the Flemish mobility organization VAB traditionally probes the Belgian’s intentions about the means he intends to use to go on holiday. Almost 60% are going to use a vehicle on four wheels somehow. And although it’s already double the number of the year before, only 4.2% are doing that fully electrically. Still, more than half are still plagued by severe ‘range anxiety.’

VAB surveyed 2,727 Flemish in February-March about their vacation plans this summer. The results showed that 45.4% would travel by car, 32.9% would take a plane, and 8.9% would rent a car at the destination.

Graphic VAB

60% ‘car holidays’

Another 4.8% will use a camper van, and 0.8% will use a caravan, so the total number of ‘car holidays’ fluctuates around 60%. Bicycles (4.5%), trains (4.5%), buses (2.1%), and motorbikes (0.9%) are relatively marginal.

It might not surprise you that most of these ‘car holidays’ are done with classic combustion engine vehicles: 51,9% are on gasoline, and 31,6% on diesel. With the 11.6% hybrids added, that ‘fossil fuel’ group reaches an overwhelming 95%. That compares to only 4.2% ‘gambling’ on a fully electric car, most likely because that’s a company car that can be used for holidays.

Double of the year before

Still, that figure is already double last year’s (2%), and if you add all partly electric (hybrid) cars, the percentage rose from 12% in 2023 to 15.8%. That means one in six Flemish is somewhat ‘electrified’ on holiday.

But ‘range anxiety’ still rules. About 52% admit it’s their first time venturing on a holiday trip with an EV. That provides the necessary stress, and 52% will adjust the travel scheme to avoid getting stuck with an empty battery. One tends to choose a destination that isn’t far away or to travel to a country with enough charging facilities.

Belgian car market reality

The VAB figures confirm the reality of the Belgian car market. In 2023, 67% of new car registrations were company cars, the highest percentage ever. These company car registrations are the main driver for the uptake of electric vehicles, as companies in Belgium will be forced to buy only zero-emission cars from 2026 on, and most are already heading that way.

Private car sales are mostly a matter of second-hand cars. According to figures from the automotive service federation Traxio, in 2023, 476,675 new vehicles were registered, compared to 689,170 used ones.

Of these new cars, 19.6% were fully electric (BEV), 21.1% PHEV, and 7.7% a classic hybrid (HEV). That’s double the figures for the previous year. However, fossil fuels, although steadily declining, are still not marginalized, with 42.2% gasoline and 8.7% diesel.

In the second-hand market, BEVs only accounted for 1.8%, PHEVs for 3.9%, and HEVs for 4,2%, while fossil with gasoline at 54% and diesel at 35.6% still rules at 89.6%. There is a practical reason for this, as EVs are only offered in dribs and drabs on the second-hand market, and lots of end-of-lease EVs in Belgium find their way to more ‘electric-loving’ countries like the Netherlands and Norway.

Declining appetite

Several studies show that the appetite to buy an EV is declining significantly among private buyers in countries like Germany and Belgium. High initial purchase prices, range anxiety, and worries about too few charging points remain the main reasons.

A recent BNP Paribas-Arval study supposes that it is partly because the ‘early adopters’ have already bought their EVs. That presumes the vast majority is still somewhat rooted in prejudices when it comes to choose an electric car for their next purchase.


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