For several years, CarGurus has surveyed US consumers on their attitudes toward autonomous vehicles (AVs). This year, we also checked in with UK consumers to get their sentiments on the topic. The results? More people are concerned about AVs than excited for them. According to buyers, they’re a huge leap in technology, but the majority aren’t convinced the pros outweigh the cons, especially concerning safety.
Here, we break down four key findings from our Self-Driving Vehicle Sentiment Survey conducted in April and what they mean for dealers.
There’s a long way to go for consumers to be convinced of AV technology
While 30% of consumers say they’re excited about AVs’ development, more than one-third (36%) are concerned about the technology. Like in the US, many people would still prefer to be behind the wheel. Consumers are least comfortable with the idea of putting a loved one in a self-driving car and sharing the roads with self-driving delivery trucks or fleets.
Buyers remain more interested in driving assistance features (ADAS)
While one-third of consumers expect to own a self-driving vehicle in the next 10 years, more than half (52%) say it won’t be before then. Primarily, that’s because they’re hesitant to rely on them for safety. Instead, consumers are more interested in Level 1-3 AV tech with driving assistance features like automatic parking (48%), emergency braking (43%), or adaptive cruise control (37%). More than two-thirds (68%) agree that driving assistance features make travel by car safer.
Consumers need clear benefits for AV adoption to happen
Though most consumers are hesitant about the safety of AVs right now, they do see the possibilities that self-driving cars can unlock. In particular, buyers are most excited about the thought of the car driving them home safely when they’re unable to, parking itself, and pick up online orders for them. For consumers, meaningful benefits are what will move the needle for general AV adoption once they’re available.
Tesla is the most trusted and considered for AV
As with electric vehicle development, consumers trust Tesla most to manufacture AVs, however overpromising on self-driving capability and high-profile crashes were two of the top three reasons not to trust an AV brand. Still, more than half of respondents (51%) feel it’s too soon to trust any company to develop the tech.
What it all means for dealers
The main takeaway for dealers: AVs aren’t imminent so don’t panic. With 87% of consumers uncomfortable with the idea of putting a loved one in an AV and nearly half (44%) uncomfortable relying on them for safety, it’s clear that AVs won’t be mainstream anytime soon. Instead, focus on gaining a deep understanding of current driving assistance technology and equip your sales team to speak knowledgeably with consumers about these features. More information will ultimately translate to more satisfied customers and safer drivers on the road.