The data is in, and it shows that consumers are ready for an autonomous future in terms of vehicles.
But they are not only ready — they are excited about it.
A new study from the Capgemini Research Institute finds that consumer preference for riding in self-driving cars could double within the next 10 years.
Thirty percent of U.S. consumers would prefer to ride in a self-driving car over a traditional vehicle over the next 12 months, according to the survey, and 63% say that by 2029, they will prefer driverless cars as their preferred mode of transport.
The findings, published on May 9 as part of the institute’s "The Autonomous Car: A Consumer Perspective" global report, showed 36% of surveyed U.S. consumers had positive emotions about self-driving cars.
But some barriers remain. Seventy-three percent of respondents say that purchase or adoption of a driverless vehicle is dependent on vehicle security. Seventy-two percent say it is dependent on system security.
Capgemini global head of automotive Markus Winkler said in a news release that auto companies must consider their future customers’ expectations and fears. As they bring autonomous vehicles to market, those companies should focus on “transforming their own operations from a heavy product focus to services and customer orientation,” Winkler said.
But with that caution, it’s hard to ignore the positive signals from consumers. Seventy-three percent of those surveyed foresee benefits with autonomous vehicles in terms of fuel efficiency, 71% foresee benefits from reduced emissions, and 50% see benefits in terms of time savings.
The institute sees even further evidence of optimism and anticipation from consumers because of the finding that 56% say they would be willing to pay up to 20% more for an autonomous vehicle over a standard one.
Consumers believe autonomous cars will take on a larger role in their daily lives, according to the survey. Forty-nine percent of all global respondents would be comfortable with self-driving cars running an errand on their behalf. Fifty-four percent would trust an autonomous vehicle to drop off or pick up non-driving friends and family members. And 50% expect self-driving cars to give them more time for other activities such as socializing, entertainment or working.
The survey provided strong detail about consumers’ views on autonomous vehicles, even considering cultural and geographic factors. Chinese consumers and millennials are two groups showing highly positive sentiment toward autonomous cars.
Capgemini also identified areas of focus that it said could “accelerate the journey towards an autonomous future:
— Keep the customer informed: The consumer's perception of the car as moving from a means of transportation to a quasi-personal assistant places a burden on auto companies, according to Capgemini. Because of that, auto companies should be candid about the capabilities of the vehicle and avoid any risk of misrepresentation.
— Understand and reassure: Auto companies should understand consumer expectations and “bake them into the design process itself,” Capgemini said, and they should also invest in and communicate the safety and security elements of the vehicles.
— Build an ecosystem of services: Automotive companies should expand their scope of consumer offerings. Consumers expect various experiences inside the car, in areas such as entertainment, work and health services.
“Delivering these experiences and to convert them to into business opportunities will require automotive companies to partner with a new set of technology, content and commerce players in order to create an entire ecosystem of services,” Capgemini said.
— Software investment: Automotive companies should integrate autonomous into their overall company strategy across all divisions of their business. They can only achieve that by developing software competencies, Capgemini said.