How taking part helps e-mobility take off

© Projekt »Online Schaufenster Elektromobiltät«


The Elektr-O-Mat online game shows how to fire up public enthusiasm

For just over a year now, people have had the chance to play the Elektr-O-Mat online game to find out what type of electromobility would work best for them. An initial analysis of the data gathered indicates this playful approach serves as a good introduction to electromobility for many people. Such an approach could also be transferred to other topics.

Launched last year, the Elektr-O-Mat game was designed to do two things: first, to show people what type of electric vehicle or e-mobility offer would work best for them; and second, to find out what mobility needs people have and what they expect from (electro)mobility. Researchers have now analyzed data collected over a five-and-a-half month period.

During this period, a total of 2290 people played Elektr-O-Mat with an average time of 7 minutes and 50 seconds. The proportion of players who did not complete the game was 24.3 percent. The average Elektr-O-Mat player is male, 42 years old and lives in a two- or three-person household. Each day he travels about 41 kilometers, a distance he could easily cover with an electric car. What’s more, he is prepared to pay 17.3 percent more for an electric car than for a conventional one. Out of a total of 1932 observable ranking combinations, the following one applied to an astonishing 10.6 percent of players: 1. hybrid car, 2. electric car, and 3. e-car sharing.

A new kind of public participation

For Norbert Fröschle, Elektr-O-Mat project manager and researcher at Fraunhofer IAO, it’s about more than just statistics. He’s much more interested in the implications of this kind of participatory exercise. “Participation games can’t replace representative surveys, but they do give the general public a chance to have their say on a given issue and take part in research,” Fröschle explains. In this case, there is a high user benefit for people interested in mobility and for electromobility enthusiasts. “Scientists and politicians can use this benefit as an incentive for people to rethink the effects of their behavior and take an active part in the processes that are changing the structural landscape of society as a whole,” continues Fröschle. This kind of approach, what scientists might call a honeypot , can also be transferred to other topics. “Elektr-O-Mat can be taken as a new way to get the public involved in today’s issues – the change to the energy economy, air quality alerts, smart cities or the Internet of Things,” says Fröschle in describing the project’s pioneering character.

How Elektr-O-Mat works

Elektr-O-Mat requires players to answer 15 simple questions online about their mobility choices and preferences. Based on their responses, the game immediately provides players with a list of the top modes of electromobility that suit them best. To do this, Elektr-O-Mat compares the advantages of seven electromobility modes – electric cars, hybrids, pedelecs, e-bike, public transportation, e-car sharing and pedelec sharing.

Open science – transparent algorithms

The quantitative and qualitative findings, including all data and assumptions, can be viewed online on the Elektr-O-Mat website. Elektr-O-Mat is a participation game created as part of the Online Electric Mobility Showcase R&D project. Funded by Baden-Württemberg’s Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts, the initiative is being undertaken by the project consortium of e-mobil BW GmbH – the State Agency for Electric Mobility and Fuel Cell Technology Baden-Württemberg, YellowMap AG and Fraunhofer IAO.

The online game Elektr-O-Mat has expired.