As the future of mobility shifts towards autonomous vehicles, traditional carmakers and suppliers will have their work cut out on two fronts: competing with tech companies for autonomous profits, and exposing consumers to the benefits offered by self-driving vehicles.
That’s according to a new survey exploring consumers’ views of autonomous vehicles, released at last week’s Technology in Motion conference in Detroit by business advisory firm AlixPartners.
On a positive note for developers, almost a third of those questioned (29%) claim they’d be willing to consider buying an autonomous vehicle, and, on average, pay an incremental $2,600 for doing so.
A fifth of this group (20%) were identified as early adopters, who expect to buy an autonomous vehicle in its first year on sale, and are happy to pay an incremental $3,500 or more to do so.
At the same time, found the research, nearly half of those surveyed (49%) don’t yet feel confident that autonomous vehicles will be able to navigate them safely, while a majority (55%) said they are unlikely to consider purchasing an autonomous vehicle.
Safety is front of mind for consumers when it comes to autonomy, with 84% of respondents expressing concern about vehicle software malfunctions and a similar proportion (80%) worried about potential hardware malfunctions.
Perhaps as a result, traditional carmakers are at a disadvantage to tech companies when it comes to consumer trust. Half of respondents (50%) say they would trust tech companies most to maintain their data privacy in an autonomous vehicle, compared to just 14% for traditional car companies.
Similarly, nearly two-thirds (62%) say they would trust tech companies to protect their vehicle from hacking, compared to only 8% for carmakers.
However, despite these findings, consumers’ preferred approach for the development of autonomous vehicles is a partnership model between tech companies and traditional carmakers.
In positive news for developers, the survey found that consumer awareness of autonomous vehicles has increased from 90% in a similar survey in June 2016 to a near-universal 97% this year.
At the same time, the proportion of respondents who have experienced vehicles with at least some level of autonomous features has risen from 3% in last year’s survey to almost one in five respondents (18%) in this year’s poll. Almost half of this group (49%) say they feel ‘confident’ or ‘very confident’ about autonomous vehicles’ ability to navigate safely.
“When it comes to autonomous vehicles, traditional auto companies and suppliers have a big, two-front battle ahead of them: educating the consumer about AVs and figuring out how to compete in the software end with highly-advantaged tech companies—or partner with them when that makes more sense,” said Mark Wakefield, global co-head of the automotive and industrial practice at AlixPartners.
“Either way, traditional auto will have to undertake massive operational and organizational changes to afford the autonomous-vehicle investments, be successful with partnerships and not get left out of the profitable parts of the new automotive ecosystem.”