Half of consumers want self-driving experience in 5 years

23 May 2019 Consultancy.uk 4 min. read
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More than half of global consumers are keen to adopt autonomous vehicles in the next five years, a new study has found. Following a number of costly accidents, the technology seems to be winning the trust of customers, with 54% of those polled saying they would trust an autonomous vehicle with carrying non-driving friends and family members.

The automotive industry is facing a number of megatrends, as technological, social and environmental pressures shift the industry. Electrification remains a key force, as societies seek to meet climate change conditions, while further lowering the impact of vehicles on health. A further shift is expected from autonomous driving, which could reduce the number of vehicles required, as well as how many accidents occur, and improving vehicular services with heightened connectivity.

According to a new report from Capgemini, the trend is set to hit new heights in the near-future, with consumer preference for riding in self-driving cars forecast to double within the next five years. While safety fears and high pricing mean only 25% of consumers would consider riding in a self-driving car over a traditional vehicle in 12 months’ time, 52% expect the bugs to have been ironed out of the technology by 2024, to the extent that driverless cars will be their preferred mode of transport.

What emotion does the thought of a self-driving car invoke in you?

Speaking to 5,500 consumers and 280 executives from leading organisations across six countries in Europe, North America, and Asia, the Capgemini Research Institute found consumers see huge potential benefits with autonomous vehicles. Having initially been reserved about the technology, 73% said they were most excited about the fuel efficiency offered by autonomous cars, closely followed by reduced emissions (71%) and saving time (50%).

Meanwhile, trust seems to be growing in the technology, despite a number of high-profile accidents in the nascent stages of self-driving vehicles. Now, 49% of respondents confirmed they would be comfortable with self-driving cars running an errand on their behalf and 54% would entrust an autonomous vehicle with dropping off or picking up non-driving friends and family members. In expectation of this growing appetite, the UK’s manufacturing sector is one of the fastest to adapt. According to a separate survey by Capgemini, only 12% of the UK’s industry have not made any move to adopt AI, while only the US has a higher number.

In the future I would trust the self-driving car to

The latest evidence suggest this could well pay dividends. Fifty-nine percent of the sample Capgemini spoke to stated they await self-driving cars with ‘anticipation’. Such are the levels of excitement about the new mode of transport that more than half said they would pay a premium to access it. Fifty-six percent said they would be willing to pay up to 20% more for an autonomous vehicle over a standard one.

However, manufacturers should still view these results with a pinch of salt – especially as 48% said self-driving cars still evoke a sense of ‘fear’. At the same time, Chinese consumers seem to have thrown off the average to an extent. An overwhelming majority of 53% in China regard self-driving vehicles positively, but the rest of the world is far more reserved. The same number of UK respondents (35%) said they feel negatively or positively about self-driving cars, for example.

Emotions invoked by a self-driving car - by country

Commenting on the report, Markus Winkler, Global Head of Automotive at Capgemini said, “Most conversation to date has focused on the technological evolution of driverless cars – so it’s hugely encouraging to see the potential benefits that the technology enables are resonating with future passengers. Customer expectations of in-car experiences will not only impact the automotive industry but other industries like media and entertainment, retail, and healthcare as well, paving the way for a plethora of collaborative business opportunities.”

According to the study, there are a number of key areas which automotive firms should focus on to accelerate the journey towards an autonomous future: keeping the customer informed to improve their perception of the risk of the technology; understanding consumer expectations to hardwire them into the design process; and developing/communicating the safety and security elements of vehicles are vital. On top of this, firms should build an ecosystem of services – ranging from entertainment, work and health services – and invest in developing software competencies, which requires the up-skilling of the workforce.