Study: 1 in 3 people interested in autonomous cars

Michael Wayland
The Detroit News

Interest is growing for active safety and automated convenience features in new vehicles, however the majority of consumers aren’t interested in a fully autonomous car or truck.

That’s according to the J.D. Power 2016 U.S. Tech Choice Study, which found roughly one in three drivers (34 percent) had interest in a full self-driving vehicle. That compares to high-interest in so-called “gateway” technologies to autonomous vehicles such as lane change assist, traffic jam assist and emergency stop.

The second annual study found interest in self-driving vehicles is dependent on age: More than half of Gen Y (56 percent) and Gen Z (55 percent) vehicle owners say they trust self-driving technology, compared with 41 percent of Gen X, 23 percent of Baby Boomers and 18 percent of Pre-Boomers.

Furthermore, only 27 percent of Gen X, 18 percent of Gen Y and 11 percent of Gen Z consumers say they “definitely would not” trust the technology, while 39 percent of Baby Boomers and 40 percent of Pre-Boomers say the same.

The one view all generations share, the study found, is a concern for technology security, specifically surrounding privacy and the potential for systems to be hacked, hijacked or to crash — either the vehicle or the system itself.

Gen Y and Gen Z vehicle owners also are twice as likely as Gen X and five times as likely as Boomers and Pre-Boomers to show interest in alternative mobility such as mobility sharing/co-ownership such as Zipcar or ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft.

The study overall examines consumer awareness, interest and price elasticity of various future and emerging technologies by vehicle make and consumer demographic.

The major technology categories analyzed in the study include entertainment and connectivity, comfort and convenience, driving assistance, collision protection, navigation and energy efficiency.

It found the most desired features consumers are willing to pay for are economy navigation systems ($60); simple wireless device connections ($60); camera rear-view mirrors ($300); smart parking ($100); and predictive traffic assist systems ($150).

Technologies with the lowest consumer interest were technologies with specific uses such as trailer connect assist (25 percent), trailer towing visibility (29 percent) and full self-driving (34 percent).

J.D. Power defines the generations as Pre-Boomers (born before 1946); Baby Boomers (1946-1964); Gen X (1965-1976); Gen Y (1977-1994); and Gen Z (1995-2000 for this study).

The study was released Wednesday in Detroit at the Automotive Press Association. It was fielded in February through March 2016 and is based on an online survey of more than 7,900 consumers who purchased/leased a new vehicle in the past five years.

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