Car buyers ready to embrace autonomous vehicles, finds report

Car shoppers are more ready for autonomous vehicles than they may realise, thanks to the rapid adoption of active safety features, says a new report.

More than 60% of today’s new vehicle models can be purchased at Level 1 or Level 2 autonomy, compared to less than a quarter of new vehicle models that offered these features five years ago, according to Edmunds, the car shopping and information platform behind the report.

“While some car buyers may view a fully autonomous vehicle as a novelty, a vehicle that has the ability to prevent an accident before it occurs is seen as a safety breakthrough,” said Jessica Caldwell, Edmunds executive director of industry analysis.

In a recent poll by Edmunds, more than 40% of consumers say they would spend between $1,000 and $2,000 extra for a vehicle with active safety features such as blind-spot detection, pre-collision warning systems and lane keeping assist.

“Usually it takes a long time for pricey new technologies to work their way down market from luxury to mainstream vehicles, but because changes in policy are mandating that many active safety features become standard, it’s happening much more quickly,” said Caldwell.

According to the firm’s analysis, carmakers Tesla, Volvo, Honda and Mercedes-Benz are leading the way in offering active safety features on the widest variety of vehicles.

“Automakers that offer a full suite of active safety features on their vehicles are at a distinct advantage in the race to autonomy,” said Caldwell.

“It’s a way they can demonstrate their technology leadership to car buyers now so that when full autonomy does come, they’ve already established trust and credibility with a large base of potential buyers.”