European drivers not ready to hand over wheel to self-driving cars, finds survey


Two-thirds of European drivers want to be able to continue driving even if self-driving cars become commonplace, according to a new survey.

The research, which polled more than 11,000 European consumers, found that 66% of drivers want to remain behind the wheel, even if self-driving cars become widely available.

The proportion of drivers who want to maintain control of their car was lowest in Italy, where 59% of drivers want to remain behind the wheel, but rose to as high as 71% in the UK, Germany, Austria and Poland.

Only one in three European drivers (33%) say that they welcome the advent of self-driving cars, found the survey, with this figure falling to just a quarter (25%) of drivers in France and the Netherlands.

In addition, the poll found little evidence of greater support for self-driving cars among younger age groups in Europe. According to the survey, 18-24 year olds (33%) were slightly less likely to welcome self-driving cars than those aged 25-34 (36%) and 35-44 (34%).

There really is nothing quite like the physical pleasure of driving
— Jeff Guyton, Mazda Motor Europe

The survey also revealed the emotional connection that many motorists have with driving. More than two-thirds of the drivers polled (69%) hope that future generations will continue to have the option to drive cars, while just over a third of those who enjoy driving (36%) see their car and the act of driving as an extension of their personality.

Driving is also in danger of becoming a ‘forgotten pleasure’, believe 34% of those polled, while more than half of respondents (54%) claim to have been for a drive ‘just for fun’.

The Ipsos research was commissioned by carmaker Mazda. Jeff Guyton, Mazda Motor Europe’s President and CEO, said: “As a brand we simply love driving and this research demonstrates very clearly that a huge number of European drivers agree with us – of course, there is a role for self-driving cars but for us, and for many others it seems, there really is nothing quite like the physical pleasure of driving.”