Study: Trust in Self-Driving Cars on the Decline
If you think everyone wants a self-driving car, think again. A new J.D. Power and Associates study indicates consumers welcome driving assistance features but have doubts about fully self-driving cars. Everyone except Generation Y — also called millennials, or those defined by J.D. Power as being born from 1977 to 1994 — are increasingly skeptical of self-driving technology, according to the firm's 2017 U.S. Tech Choice Study.
That bucks a usual trend for emerging technology, the firm says, where consumer acceptance grows as tech goes from conceptual to production-ready. For self-driving cars, trust appears on the decline. Versus a year ago, 11 percent more so-called "Gen Z" consumers (born from 1995 to 2004) say they "definitely would not" trust automated technology, J.D. Power says. That's a sentiment that 9 percent more Baby Boomers expressed in 2017, too.
Worth noting: The study surveyed more than 8,500 consumers in January or February 2017 who bought or leased a new car in the last five years. That was a month before a crash involving a self-driving Volvo for Uber — news that may have sunk enthusiasm even lower.
As it stands, consumers of all ages aren't exactly brimming with excitement. Less than half of Gen Y and Gen Z consumers indicate interest in self-driving cars, said Doug Betts, J.D. Power's senior vice president of global automotive operations. And for older consumers, interest is minimal. When asked to name usages for self-driving cars, the "No. 1 answer from Baby Boomers was that there is no use for self-driving cars," Betts told attendees at a New York automotive forum last week hosted by J.D. Power and the National Automobile Dealers Association. They're "absolutely not" interested in self-driving cars, he said.
Yet consumers appear on board with driver-assistance features. Of the top 10 automotive features in which respondents expressed the most interest, driver assistance and collision prevention features — think automatic emergency braking, lane change assistance and side-view cameras — accounted for six.
Less surprising, J.D. Power says younger consumers are more open than older consumers to technologies that assumes control of certain vehicle functions, from smartphone-controlled multimedia interfaces to automatic parking systems. Gen Z has the highest interest in ride-sharing or mobility-on-demand services, the firm says. They're also the most comfortable with technology that would replace a traditional key fob with your smartphone.