Consumer perception regarding the safety of self-driving vehicles remains stalled since last year in most countries, according to Examining Auto's Future: 2020 Deloitte Global Automotive Consumer Study.
In the US, nearly half of consumers (48%) think that fully self-driving cars will be unsafe, according to the study. This apprehension extends to commercial vehicles, as well. More than two thirds (68%) of consumers noted that they were concerned about commercial vehicles operating in autonomous mode on the highway.
Across most global markets covered in this year's study, just under half of respondents in several countries believed that autonomous vehicle (AV) technology will not be safe. In fact, in India and China, the percentage of people that think autonomous vehicles will not be safe has increased to 58% and 35%, respectively. This trend goes hand in hand with consumers' views on testing autonomous vehicles, with over half of consumers in India (57%) and the US (51%) concerned by the idea of autonomous vehicles being tested in areas where they live.
Deloitte surveyed more than 35,000 driving-aged consumers, from 20 countries, across the globe. Conducted online, the study helps to provide insights into a variety of critical issues impacting the automotive sector.
Consumers Don't Want to Pay for Driverless Cars
Original equipment manufacturers continue to spend billions on R&D in advanced vehicle features with the assumption that consumers will pay a premium to gain access to these advanced technologies when they appear on the market.
However, results from this year's study reinforce our past findings that achieving a return on invested capital for new technologies may be more difficult than some automakers think. Notably, consumers in the US (34%) indicate that they are not willing to pay extra for AV technology. And, for those willing to pay anything extra, it does not cover the costs required to develop and deliver the technology.
This reluctance to pay for AV technology is part of a more general unwillingness among consumers in developed economies to spend extra for other types of advanced automotive features such as connectivity. Across the globe, almost half of the survey respondents in Germany (46%), and almost a third in the US (31%) and Japan (28%), indicated they would not pay more for a vehicle that could communicate with other vehicles and with road infrastructure to improve safety.
Stakeholders across the automotive industry are currently facing challenges when it comes to business models and product portfolios as they are forced to rethink long term investments while not getting left behind. Underlying these massive R&D investments is the assumption that consumers will actually pay for advanced vehicle technologies when they appear on the market. However, as consumer skepticism gains momentum, automakers should rationalize returns on invested capital to remain profitable as consumers' desires to purchase new technologies continue to wane and shift gears to the realities of electrified vehicles.
Vehicle Connectivity, Privacy and Security Concerns Remain
When it comes to advantages of increased connectivity in vehicles, consumers are split on whether it's worth it. People in India (80%) and China (76%) are embracing the idea at over twice the rate compared to Germany (36%), followed by the US (46%).
In the meantime, opinions differ on specific concerns around connectivity, including the security of biometric data generated and shared by connected vehicles. Notably, in India where consumers believe increased connectivity is beneficial, the majority (69%) have concerns about privacy and data security. These same concerns are also high among the majority of other countries, including Germany (62%) and the US (59%).
On the contrary, who consumers would trust the most to manage the data being generated and shared by a connected car remains a mixed bag across the globe as automotive OEMs are not necessarily their choice, with fewer than 40% of consumers in most countries selecting OEMs for this role.