Consumers not ready for driverless cars, finds research

Despite the investment being lavished on developing fully autonomous cars, the majority of consumers are still not sold on the idea, according to new research.  

Consumers are also confused by the language carmakers use to describe the semi-autonomous features available in their cars, found the study. 

The research from Auto Trader found that eight in ten people would be wary of using a car, taxi or bus without the safety net of a human driver. Almost half of those questioned (48%) said they ‘absolutely wouldn’t use’ a self-driving car that they couldn’t take control of.

Semi-autonomous features

However, attitudes change when it comes to semi-autonomous features. Almost a third of those questioned (31%) said that they have at least one semi-autonomous feature in their car, and 78% said they used it regularly.

Reassuringly for those investing in automated driving technologies, more than half of those surveyed (51%) said that autonomous features would make them more likely to buy from the same brand again, while 80% said that they would be willing to pay extra for them in their next car.

Confused by jargon

However, consumers are also confused by the jargon and acronyms carmakers use when describing the semi-autonomous features available in today’s vehicles, such as autonomous emergency braking systems.

Because manufacturers have their own ways of defining semi-autonomous features, the majority of car buyers miscategorise their function or fail to appreciate their capabilities, found the research. Indeed, just 35% of car buyers whose car has semi-autonomous features said these were clearly explained to them during the sales process, while only a third received a demonstration of the technology.

To combat this, suggests the report, manufacturers should simplify the language they use to talk to consumers about such technology and focus on the tangible benefits of new technologies, such as the safety improvements they offer or how easy they are to use.

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