As automakers continue their work in developing self-driving vehicles and moving toward greater electrification, J.D. Power says being aware of whether consumers are on the same road — and headed in the same direction — is important.
“That doesn’t seem to be the case right now,” Kristin Kolodge, the executive director of driver interaction and human machine interface research at J.D. Power, said in a news release.
Kolodge was referring to the inaugural J.D. Power 2019 Mobility Confidence Index Study fueled by SurveyMonkey Audience, which J.D. Power released on Tuesday. For self-driving vehicles, the study shows a Mobility Confidence Index of 36 on a 100-point scale. For battery-electric vehicles, it shows an index of 55.
“Out of the box, these scores are not encouraging,” Kolodge said.
She added, “Manufacturers need to learn where consumers are in terms of comprehending and accepting new mobility technologies — and what needs to be done.”
The overall score of 36 for self-driving vehicles shows a low level of consumer confidence about those vehicles’ future, J.D. Power said. Self-driving attributes showing the lowest scores are comfort level of riding in a self-driving vehicle (34); and comfort level of sharing the road with others in a self-driving vehicle (35).
For battery-electric vehicles, consumers show a neutral level of confidence, with a Mobility Confidence Index of 55. The lowest-scoring attributes include how likely the consumer would be to purchase an electric vehicle (39); how reliable electric vehicles are compared to gas-powered vehicles (49); and how much the consumer would be able to stay within budget compared to gas, diesel or hybrid vehicles (55).
However, most consumers, regardless of age, see positive environmental effects of electric vehicles, according to the study
In some areas, the study findings seem to be in line with recent comments from Deloitte automotive research leader Ryan Robinson during a presentation at the recent Automotive Intelligence Summit. Robinson shared his company’s findings that show a downward trend in consumer support of autonomous vehicles.
According to the J.D. Power study, perceptions of the safety of self-driving vehicles differ with age and knowledge. Overall, consumers are even on both sides of the question regarding how self-driving vehicles will affect traffic safety. Forty percent say they will improve traffic safety, and 40% say they will cause it to worsen.
Younger generations, however, show more confidence that safety will improve, with 52% of Gen Z respondents believing that and 45% of Gen Y feeling the same way.
However, 49% of Boomers think safety of self-driving vehicles will become worse than today. Consumers thinking they know a lot or a fair amount about self-driving vehicles feel those vehicles will make traffic safety better (59% and 52%, respectively).
Another finding of the study in the area of self-driving vehicles: Consumers still don’t know much about them, with 66% of respondents admitting they have little to no knowledge about self-driving vehicles. Gen Z possesses the most knowledge, with Boomers showing the least.
However, 71% of consumers say they would be more likely to purchase or lease a self-driving vehicle if they possessed a great deal of knowledge. But for those who state they know nothing at all about them, that consideration falls to 25%.
Another self-driving challenge is that industry experts say perfecting self-driving technology is more challenging than they originally thought. Also, experts see self-driving services such as public transit, delivery and taxi/ride-hailing arriving to market in five to six years, while they see self-driving vehicles for purchase arriving in about 12 years.
Top concerns of self-driving vehicles are tech failures, hacking and liability. Sixty-five percent of consumers are more hopeful about the overall benefit of technology in their lives while 34% are worried, and 39% show no excitement about any self-driving technology, such as delivery services, public transit, taxi/ride-hailing service and personal vehicles.
Consumers are most worried about tech failures/errors (71%); risk of vehicle being hacked (57%); and legal liability as a result of a collision (55%).
In the area of battery-electric vehicles, another key finding is that 61% of respondents believe those vehicles are better for the environment. Forty-eight percent say they see an advantage in the cost of charging compared with the cost of gas. But availability of charging stations is a concern for 64% of respondents, with 59% expressing concern about range. Seventy-seven percent expect electric vehicles to have a driving range of 300 miles or more, while 74% are only willing to wait 30 minutes or less to charge a vehicle to travel about 200 miles.
The J.D. Power site includes more details on the study.