Mobility Laboratory 2020 – Attractive alternatives to the private car

In many places one already finds attractive, environmentally friendly alternatives to owning a car, such as car sharing, carpools or electric cars, which allow citizens to use an own car less. All too often, however, these offers are not taken up. That is why, in the research project Mobility Laboratory 2020 the team from ISOE and Zebralog are investigating the obstacles that lead to this situation using participative methods.

Research approach

The traffic transformation can only succeed if environmentally friendly alternatives to the car are compatible with everyday life and attractive for citizens. There are already numerous ways of meeting mobility needs while using fewer (private) cars. These include, for example, car sharing, carpooling or park & ride offers, electric cars and a corresponding charging infrastructure. Practice shows, however, that none of these measures has yet been able to achieve widespread acceptance. 

This is precisely where the research project comes in. With the participation of car drivers, citizens' forums are to be organised in which the reasons for the lack of use of car sharing etc. are to be discussed. The forums have the following intention:

  • The complex topic of the “traffic transformation” becomes comprehensible in everyday life for citizens who have an automotive mobility profile.
  • The acceptance of measures that affect the lives of citizens will be subject of discussion.
  • The need for action (normative knowledge) and proposals for action (practical knowledge) are identified from the perspective of citizens.
  • Public attention is created for a topic that is rather abstract for most.

The measures to be discussed in the citizens’ forums have already been defined by the Federal Environment Agency in an ongoing research project. ISOE's task is to design and implement a test phase: It is intended for selected citizens to choose and test different alternative forms of mobility for six to nine months documenting their advantages and disadvantages. On this basis, recommendations are to be formulated that help make environmentally friendly alternatives to the car more attractive and more suitable for everyday use.


CO2 emissions from the transport sector are remaining at the 1990 level, along with harmful noise, NOX and particulate pollution. The present mobility system is not sustainable, and a change in transport is therefore essential. Such a transformation can only succeed if environmentally friendly alternatives to the car are made attractive to citizens and are as compatible with everyday life as possible. Current alternatives that are intended to promote multimodal transport behaviour or at least to reduce dependence on fossil fuels have not yet been able to gain acceptance among the general population. There are often significant differences between urban and rural areas when it comes to an acceptance of these mobility alternatives.

Reasons for the lack of acceptance in society are manifold and concern different areas such as infrastructure, economic efficiency, safety, social recognition or even practicability. These obstacles are already in the public debate. However, a precise picture of what exactly prevents a change to environmentally friendly mobility alternatives is still only available to a limited extent.


Deffner, Jutta/Melina Stein (2023): Mobilitätswende - können Mobilitätsexperimente die Wende voranbringen?. ISOE Blog Soziale Ökologie. Krise - Kritik - Gestaltung

Deffner, Jutta/Georg Sunderer (2023): Alternativen zum privaten Auto - was es dazu braucht. Wege zu einem multioptionalen Verkehrsmittelmix. Fact Sheet Dessau-Roßlau

Fielitz, Julia/Jutta Deffner/Georg Sunderer (2023): Bürgerbotschaften aus dem Mobilitätslabor 2020. Alternativen zum konventionellen, privaten Pkw. Dokumentation, 2. Dessau-Roßlau

Fielitz, Julia/Charlotte Günther/Marie Schulze/Jutta Deffner/Georg Sunderer (2023): Mobilitätslabor 2020 - Wir steigen um! Attraktive, umweltschonende Alternativen zum konventionellen, privaten PKW. Abschlussbericht. UBA-Texte, 91. Dessau-Roßlau

Project partners

Zebralog, Bonn/Berlin (project management)


Federal Environment Agency 


2019/10 – 2022/10