The ongoing will-they-or-won’t-they when it comes to consumer acceptance of autonomous vehicles keeps inching its way toward “they will” as consumers begin to come to terms with self-driving technology.
A new study by CarGurus.com shows 34% of new car shoppers expect to own an autonomous vehicle within the next decade. During the past two years, it’s become clear that consumers are more knowledgeable about autonomous vehicles, researchers found.
However, this gained insight doesn’t mean that more people are excited about the technology, just that they are becoming more at ease with the idea. When asked how comfortable they were with the advancement of self-driving technology, 37% were neutral and 33% expressed excitement. In 2019, 31% of consumers were neutral and 32% excited.
According to the study, it appears respondents still want to maintain control of their vehicle with 53% preferring to remain the driver of a self-driving car. They are least comfortable (20%) sharing the roads with self-driving delivery trucks or fleets — one of the primary benefits of the technology, according to those developing the technology.
Neutrality equals buyers?
“This year’s Self-Driving Vehicle Sentiment Survey from CarGurus makes clear that autonomous vehicles’ tech offerings need to align with how people want to use them,” said Madison Gross, director of Customer Insights at CarGurus.
“While there is hesitancy around self-driving technology, how consumers envision themselves using the technology would require full autonomy — which is still a goal that the industry is striving toward. Until then, shoppers are looking for driving technology that helps them stay in control, rather than technology that takes total control.”
The findings reveal the conflict potential buyers feel as 45% said they are excited by the leap forward in the technology, but 51% still harbored concerns about safety. Tesla — despite the continuing controversy and investigation by federal safety regulators surrounding Autopilot semi-autonomous technology — is the company respondents have the most faith in developing self-driving cars at 34 percent.
Tesla was followed by Apple (8%) and Toyota (7%).
The ultimate trust fall
However, nearly two in 10 respondents do not trust any brand to do so, and with 56% wanting brands to bear the responsibility in the case of any accidents, there is a long way to go to earn consumers’ trust. Tesla is also the top AV brand that shoppers would consider with 54%, followed by Toyota (35%) and BMW (32%).
In spite of the trust issues, consumers are still optimistic about autonomous vehicles. More than half (56%) of respondents would use AVs to drive them home safely when unable to do so themselves and 42% would want their self-driving car to be able to park itself.
However, consumers are more focused on helpful technology — where they still have some control. They expressed the most interest in advanced driver-assistance systems like back-up cameras (39%) and blind-spot monitoring (56%), features that many cars already have (42% and 17% of drivers respectively report already owning them).