A new study of 8,100 drivers in the US by J.D. Power designed to determine people’s attitudes about autonomous cars finds a curious trend developing. In this the third year of the sturdy, more people reported being skeptical of self driving technology than last year. The number of people born between 1995 and 2004 who said they “definitely would not” trust self-driving technology rose by 11 percentage points to 22 percent compared with last year’s study. Another 23 percent in that age group said they “probably would not” trust the technology.
Age is definitely a strong factor in the results. Among Baby Boomers, 81 percent said they “definitely” or “probably” would not trust self-driving technology. That’s up from 77 percent in 2016. J.D. Power said 40 percent of Baby Boomers see no benefit from self driving vehicles, while nearly half listed their largest concern as “possible technology failures/errors.”
As the industry races to get self driving cars on the road, consumers are showing an increasing reluctance to accept the notion of cars that drive themselves. “In most cases, as technology concepts get closer to becoming reality, consumer curiosity and acceptance increase. With autonomous vehicles, we see a pattern where trust drives interest in the technology, and right now, the level of trust is declining,” said Kristin Kolodge, J.D. Power executive director of driver interaction and human machine interface.
The survey asked people what features they want their future cars to have. Most said they liked the idea of safety systems such as adaptive cruise control, lane departure and blind spot warnings, and emergency braking systems. But interest declined after the survey respondents were shown the amount of money those systems would add to the sticker price of new cars. The features customers were least interested in included second row seating configured as an “executive lounge,” mobile system control, and individual sound zones.
Tesla owners, not surprisingly, were more comfortable with self driving systems. Their interest in autonomous vehicles is almost double that of non-Tesla drivers.“Tesla consumers arguably have more experience with automation than other manufacturers,” Kolodge says. “Automated driving is a new and complex concept for many consumers. They will have to experience it firsthand to fully understand it. As features like adaptive cruise control, automatic braking and blind-spot warning systems become mainstream, car buyers will gain more confidence in taking their hands off the steering wheel and allowing their vehicles to step in to prevent human error.”
Digital keys are very popular with younger drivers. About 40 percent of the youngest consumers said they would “definitely” like digital key technology which would eliminate the need for a key fob and transfer control of the car to a smart phone app. J.D. Power said 58 percent of drivers in that group would pay $250 for the digital keys, compared with just 28 percent across all generations.
Technology is a curious thing. Nobody wants it before it gets here, then everyone wants it. Most industry observers say there will be more changes to automobiles and how we use them over the next decade than there were during the previous century. As expected, Elon Musk is out front and leading the way toward the brave new world of autonomous driving and future transportation technology. The J.D. Power survey shows he may be ahead of many segments of the population but the odds are they will catch up pretty quickly once the changes become available. After all, that pretty much the text book definition of “disruptive technology.”
Source: Automotive News