While roughly half of all consumers express interest in electric vehicles and autonomous driving technology, there is also surprisingly high satisfaction with more traditional approaches.
Consumer attitudes are shifting, with increasing openness to data sharing, new mobility concepts, and alternative manufacturing markets. These are the findings from global consulting firm Simon-Kucher & Partners’ Automotive Consumer Survey 2022, covering almost 10,000 consumers across 14 markets. However, the study also highlighted that many still prioritise conventional dealerships and purchasing models when it comes to their cars.
Unsurprisingly, a car’s price drives the purchasing decisions, ranking as the single most important purchase criterion for respondents globally. Interestingly, this was followed by more value-based criteria, such as drive technology, brand, and design. When making a purchase, conventional dealerships still come out on top. 86% of customers globally still prefer car dealerships, identifying the in-person experience and test drive opportunity as key priorities. Over half of respondents (54%) also reported satisfaction with the current sales processes, a surprisingly high number given the criticism often reported in this area.
Consumers cautiously open to data sharing
When it comes to either data sharing or in-car advertisements, attitudes are slowly shifting. Approximately three quarters of global respondents were open to some form of data sharing, especially regarding vehicle data (e.g. fuel consumption) rather than personal data (e.g. destination). A majority of those respondents required restrictions or incentive payments to be willing to share, with an average monthly incentive amount of £119 required.
There was more hesitancy over in-car advertising. Over half of all consumers globally (53%) were open to the idea in some form. However, most requested a discount or voucher in exchange. Among UK consumers, there was slightly more positivity than negativity, with over half (54%) of consumers indicating openness to in-car advertising.
Electric vehicles have gone mainstream
A key trend across all countries was the increasing acceptance of Electric Vehicles (EVs), driven by sustainability concerns, but also the fear of increasing regulatory restrictions on conventional cars. Globally, more than half of all consumers (53%) would consider an EV as their next car. Among this group, there is clear evidence of increasing growth and acceptance of Chinese manufacturers, with 65% interested in buying a Chinese EV.
Where respondents would not consider an EV, price, range, and charging infrastructure were the key rejection reasons given. On average, respondents globally expect an electric range of 519 kilometres, while in the UK the minimum expected range was just over 500 kilometres.
Autonomous driving technology gaining traction
Reactions to autonomous driving technology remain mixed. One in two respondents (48%) indicated excitement about the technology. However, one in four respondents (25%) admitted fear of autonomous technology, and all were concerned about the potential risks. System malfunctions, failure to react to human behaviour and the possibility of the car being hacked or externally controlled were the most commonly identified concerns.
Look to early adopters for market direction
The study identified three customer segments in the market, based on their opinions on EVs, autonomous driving and other innovative technologies: Early Adopters, Mainstream Progressists and Traditionalists. While revealing significantly more enthusiasm for all new technologies, Early Adopters also appeared more brand-agnostic and value-driven in their purchasing criteria. Keeping a close eye on changing opinions and behaviour in this customer segment can therefore provide clues for where the market as a whole will develop next.
Peter Colman, Partner at Simon-Kucher, commented: “While consumers in some markets are clearly hesitant towards many of tomorrow’s automotive technologies, UK consumers are generally much more open. For example, the UK had the second highest share of consumers interested in purchasing an electric vehicle in the near future. A greater understanding of consumer concerns and effective strategies to address them will be key in realising the full potential of these new technologies.”
You can download the report here.