Reactions to Autonomous Vehicles Remain Mixed
April 14, 2022

Pete Goldin

Reactions to autonomous vehicles remain mixed, according to the 2022 Global Automotive Study, conducted by Simon-Kucher & Partners.

45% of respondents indicated excitement about autonomous driving technology, while 32% admitted fear of autonomous technology.

System malfunctions, failure to react to human behavior, and the possibility of the car being hacked or externally controlled were the top concerns.

Most respondents strongly perceived autonomous vehicles as a luxury and believe they will be too expensive

Though the overall view is that autonomous technology is a positive move technologically and will become standard in the coming years, most respondents strongly perceived autonomous vehicles as a luxury and believe they will be too expensive.

■ 66% expect autonomous vehicles to be a luxury and too expensive.

■ 50% expect autonomous vehicles to be standard on the streets.

■ 45% expect autonomous vehicles to be less dangerous since software replaces human drivers.

Matthias Riemer, Senior Director at Simon-Kucher, said: "The safety of systems has to be the number one priority over a faster go-to-market process in order to turn excitement into sustainable acceptance of autonomous driving."

The report adds: "Consumers in Mexico, China, and Japan are more excited about autonomous driving technology than the global average. Conversely, customers in Norway, Belgium, and the US are disproportionately afraid of the technology. However, we are witnessing greater interest in autonomous driving. In the US, the portion of respondents reluctant to embrace this technology has shrunk by 15 percent between 2019 and 2021. In Germany, this has reduced by 17 percent."

Will Lee, Senior Manager at Simon-Kucher, commented: "Consumer acceptance of fully autonomous driving technology will depend on building their inherent trust in the vehicle itself. Building this trust will require a crawl, walk, run strategy. Consumers must first feel comfortable with advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) such as automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control, which are becoming more common in new vehicles. Consumers who already have ADAS will be more likely to accept the next phase, which is partial autonomous driving technology such as hands-free highway driving assist. These consumers will then have a clearer path to accepting fully autonomous driving technology.”

The study also identified three consumer segments, based on their opinions on EVs, autonomous driving and other innovative technologies: Early Adopters, Mainstream Progressists and Traditionalists. While revealing significantly more enthusiasm for all modern technologies, Early Adopters also appeared more brand-agnostic and value-driven in their purchasing criteria. Keeping a close eye on changing opinions and behavior in this customer segment can provide clues for where the market will develop next.

Peter Harms, Partner at Simon-Kucher, added: "The automotive industry is at an inflection point, but a boom in electric vehicles and autonomous driving technology is only as strong as the associated consumer demand."

Methodology: The study is based on an online survey of 10,624 car customers from 15 different markets (Australia, Belgium, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, UK, US) conducted between September 2021 and February 2022.