Acceptance of self-driving cars in the US will increase over time and preference for riding in self-driving cars is set to double within the next ten years, according to The Autonomous Car: A Consumer Perspective, a new study from the Capgemini Research Institute. While 30% of US consumers would prefer to ride in a self-driving car over a traditional vehicle in 12 months' time, more than double (63%) say driverless cars will be their preferred mode of transport by 2029.
With 36% of US consumers surveyed having positive emotions about self-driving cars, the positive response from consumers suggests that they see huge benefits with autonomous vehicles in terms of fuel efficiency (73%), reduced emissions (71%) and saving time (50%). Such is the sense of optimism and anticipation, over half of consumers (56%) say they would be willing to pay up to 20% more for an autonomous vehicle over a standard one.
The findings also point to a changing perception of mobility, consumers believe autonomous cars will take on a larger role in their daily lives, going beyond the act of driving to also have autonomy in running errands and completing chores. Almost half (49%) of all global respondents to the study would be comfortable with self-driving cars running an errand on their behalf; more than half (54%) would trust an autonomous vehicle to drop off or pick up non-driving friends and family members, while one in two (50%) expect self-driving cars to help them save time to pursue other activities — such as socializing, entertainment, working, or simply enjoying the journey.
Its clear consumers are anticipating an autonomous future, there are even cultural and geographic factors that are driving higher anticipation for autonomous cars. Capgemini has identified two groups displaying particularly positive sentiment towards autonomous cars — Chinese consumers and millennials.
However, despite the surge in positive consumer sentiment, excitement and anticipation, barriers to adoption remain with respondents saying that purchase or adoption of a driverless vehicle is dependent on vehicle security (73%) and system security (72%).
Markus Winkler, Global Head of Automotive at Capgemini said: "Our report shows a high level of optimism and excitement among potential autonomous vehicle users. Most conversation to date has focused on the technological evolution of driverless cars — so it's hugely encouraging to see the potential benefits that the technology enables are resonating with future passengers. Customer expectations of in-car experiences will not only impact the automotive industry but other industries like media and entertainment, retail, and healthcare as well, paving the way for a plethora of collaborative business opportunities."
"However, a degree of uncertainty and concern remains, and auto companies must consider the expectations and fears of their future customers while transforming their own operations from a heavy product focus to services and customer orientation, as they bring autonomous vehicles to the market," he concludes.
Capgemini has identified four key areas of focus to accelerate the journey towards an autonomous future:
■ Keep the customer informed: from the consumer's perception, the car is now moving from a means of transportation to a quasi-personal assistant. This shift places a significant burden of responsibility on the auto company to be candid about the capabilities of the vehicle and avoid any risk of misrepresentation.
■ Understand and reassure: the study showed that consumers have a clear view on the experience they expect from a self-driving car. Auto companies would do well to understand consumer expectations and bake them into the design process itself, while also investing in, and communicating, the safety and security elements of the vehicles.
■ Build an ecosystem of services: expectations around the potential for driverless cars highlights a clear need for automotive companies to expand their scope of consumer offerings. Consumers expect a wide variety of experiences inside the car ranging from entertainment, work and health services. Delivering these experiences and to convert them to into business opportunities will require automotive companies to partner with a new set of technology, content and commerce players in order to create an entire ecosystem of services.
■ Software investment: as an industrialized sector, heavily transforming, automotive companies need to integrate autonomous into their overall company strategy across all divisions of their business. This can only be achieved by developing software competencies which requires the upskilling of the workforce and the development of new partnerships to ensure digital mastery across different business functions.
Research Methodology: The Capgemini Research Institute conducted a survey of 5,538 consumers across six countries in Europe, North America, and Asia in December 2018. 280 executives from OEMs, suppliers, and tech companies were also surveyed. Capgemini also conducted interviews with industry leaders, examining what consumers want from self-driving cars and how organizations can give it to them.