Observe, enlighten and decipher the evolution
of consumption patterns in France and abroad

Vague information is hampering decision making

4 minutes of reading

The fog in which we find ourselves is materialised not just by a total lack of visibility regarding the future, but also by our struggle to comprehend what we are presented with. This is starkly reflected in the opinions of those surveyed as part of this latest Observatoire Cetelem. Whether it be information about the automotive industry, restricted traffic zones or engine regulations, their views highlight the lack of clarity, the complexity and the volatility surrounding these issues. The result is the emergence from this general haze of a strong sense of injustice.


A glittering symbol of the American way of life, an iconic product in Europe’s more established nations and an indicator of development in Asian countries, China in particular, the automobile is a topic of huge importance in social and economic spheres. Whether we are “pro” or “anti”, everyone has an opinion on cars, a topic that seems to trigger contrasting emotions like no other. However, the certainty that cars will remain omnipotent and omnipresent partially masks a relative dearth of information, making it difficult for motorists to make informed choices.

Paradoxically, information does not appear to circulate best where one would expect it to. Generally speaking, Europeans display a lack of knowledge on most topics. Japan, in particular, suffers from a far more opaque information environment than all the other countries in this Observatoire Cetelem, with scores that consistently exceed 70%. Also worth noting is that women, seniors and those on the lowest incomes are more likely to declare that they are poorly informed.

More specifically, 1 in 2 people cite a lack of information regarding new regulations on engine types and traffic restrictions. This confusion is particularly acute in Japan, of course, but also in Norway. Conversely, the Italians, as well as the Chinese and the Spanish, believe they are well informed on this issue.

In second place, information about the newest brands is inadequate in the eyes of 48% of respondents. Japan once again, but also Norway, Poland and Austria, all post above-average results. Once more, the Italians, together with the Americans, Mexicans, Turks and Chinese believe themselves to be more erudite on such matters.

An almost equal proportion of motorists feel that they do not have all the information they need regarding price trends (45%). The usual quartet comprising the Americans, Chinese, Turks and Mexicans express this view most vehemently, contrary to the Japanese, Norwegians, Poles and French.

If we had to illustrate the fog in which motorists currently find themselves, we would put forward their level of awareness of regulations, brands and prices as tangible evidence. We will be broaching each of these topics in greater detail later on.

While still somewhat vague, information regarding technology as a whole seems to be communicated more effectively. Only 4 out of 10 people consider themselves to be poorly informed on this topic.
There are as many Japanese consumers who are of this view as there are Chinese and Mexicans who believe the opposite (Fig. 5).

Fig. 5

Fig. 6


There was a time when the automotive world was simple and split into two camps, with petrol fans on one side and diesel fans on the other. In 2010, these two engine types accounted for 90% of sales. Thirteen years on, with overall sales having increased by almost 20%, everything has become more complicated.

With electric, fully hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles, not to mention biofuel and hydrogen power, whose presence is current limited but which could emerge in the long term, the variety of powertrains has expanded to the point that it is now much more difficult for motorists to make the right choice (Fig. 6).

Sub-section 5
Buying a car: a difficult decision
Against this backdrop of economic and financial instability, the question of whether or not to buy a car is not an easy one to answer. Nearly 6 out of 10 people say that it is a difficult or very dif
Sub-section 7
Motorists face diverse and complex regulations
With the introduction of these LEZs, motorists are now faced with a shifting reality, a kind of regulatory chameleon. With ZFEs in France (Zone à Faibles Émissions), ZTLs in Italy (Zona Traffico