Consumer Acceptance of Self-Driving Cars Soars, Study Says
May 09, 2019      

A new study from the Capgemini Research Institute suggests that consumer acceptance of self-driving cars in the U.S. will increase over time, with preference for riding in autonomous vehicles set to double in the next 10 years. While only 30% of those surveyed would prefer to ride in a self-driving car over a traditional vehicle over the next 12 months, by 2029, 63% would prefer this method, the study found.

These and other results were published today as part of the institute’s report, “The Autonomous Car: A Consumer Perspective.” The company said consumers are seeing huge benefits with autonomous vehicles in terms of fuel efficiency (73%), reduced emissions (71%), and saving time (50%). More than half of those surveyed said they would be willing to pay up to 20% more for an autonomous vehicle over a standard one.

Markus Winkler Capgemini

Markus Winkler, Capgemini

“Our report shows a high level of optimism and excitement among potential autonomous vehicle users,” said Markus Winkler, the global head of Automotive at Capgemini. “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.”

In addition to their preferences on riding in a car, consumers believe autonomous cars will take on a larger role in daily life, going beyond just the act of driving. For example:

  • 49% would be comfortable with self-driving cars running an errand on their behalf;
  • 54% would trust an autonomous vehicle to drop off or pick up non-driving friends and family members;
  • 50% expect self-driving cars to help them save time to pursue other activities, such as socializing, entertainment, working, or simply enjoying the journey.

Not so fast, friend

While there is much optimism, the study also pointed out that barriers remain to adoption, including security and safety issues. The main barriers that could prevent consumers from adopting self-driving cars included:

  • Self-driving vehicles getting confused by unexpected situations (71%)
  • Vehicle security from hackers (73%)
  • System security from hackers (72%)
  • Difficulty interacting with human-driven vehicles (56%)
  • Understanding new traffic rules (51%)
  • Difficulty interacting with other self-driving vehicles (46%)
  • Learning to use self-driven vehicles (37%)

“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,” Winkler said.

Eat, sleep, exercise?

self-driving car interior concept super bowl drones articleAnother interesting aspect of the survey is what activities consumers will pursue while riding in a self-driving car, since they won’t have to focus on driving. Most respondents said they would socialize or pursue entertainment, while less would do chores, work, or exercise. The breakdown of tasks within self-driving cars offers insights on humans’ behavior within these vehicles, with a lot of the activities already happening in regular cars, but without the task of driving.

  • Listen to music (76%)
  • Catch up with friends and family traveling in the car with me (64%)
  • Text or call friends or family (63%)
  • Catch up on news and current affairs (62%)
  • Eat a meal or snack (58%)
  • Disconnect from digital tools and enjoy the ride and the roads (58%)
  • Watch movies / TV series (54%)
  • Read a physical or digital book (52%)
  • Do calendar planning (46%)
  • Shop online (46%)
  • Sleep (45%)

Only 18% of those surveyed would do heavy exercises, which makes us think about some new designs or exercise equipment that could be placed inside a self-driving car.

New business opportunities

The report suggests that a lot of these activities will create opportunities for multiple industries, including retail, entertainment, banking, and health and wellness services.

“While the media and entertainment industry will benefit incrementally in the new self-driving car, opportunities exist for retail as well, where nearly one in two consumers (46%) shared their inclination to shop online while in the car,” the report said. “Moreover, in addition to in-car services, there is a possibility for physical stores that are on the way for passengers to feel the impact as well. For example, nearly three in five consumers (58%) shared their inclination to eat while riding. What could this mean for the restaurant and dining industry? Could providing lucrative offers as alerts to consumers as they pass the restaurant/store lead to a boost in sales and consumer engagement?”

Capgemini identified four key areas of focus that can help accelerate the journey to an autonomous future, including:

  • Keep the customer informed: The company said consumers’ perception of a car is 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, Capgemini said. Auto companies need to understand these expectations and include those in the design process, while also investing in and communicating the safety and security elements of the vehicles.
  • Build an ecosystem of services: Consumers are expecting several experiences in the self-driving car, including entertainment, work and health services. Partners will be required to bring a new set of technology, content and commerce companies to help auto companies create these new services, the research firm said.
  • Software investment: Autonomy can only be achieved by developing software competencies, which requires the upskilling of the workforce and developing new partnerships to ensure digital mastery across different business functions, Capgemini said.

Readers wishing to see the report can head here – Capgemini is offering a report with highlights, as well as the full study, for free.