Consumers more confident about safety of autonomous cars

Posted on 22 Mar 2018 by Jonny Williamson

Consumers are increasingly confident about the safety of autonomous vehicles, according to a new study.

Consumers are increasingly confident about the safety of autonomous cars, according to new study – image courtesy of Depositphotos.

Just under half (49%) of UK respondents believe autonomous vehicles will not be safe, but this is down from 73% last year.

This trend is consistent with the responses from other countries, the study ‘2018 Global Automotive Consumer’ by Deloitte has shown.

Among the factors influencing consumer attitudes is trusted brands’ growing involvement in the development of autonomous vehicles.

Over half (53%) of respondents said they would feel better about travelling in an autonomous vehicle manufactured by a trusted brand, up from 44% last year.

When asked about the types of company they would trust most to bring self-driving technology to the market, consumer confidence in traditional car manufacturers still outweighs that in technology companies (51% vs 21%).

The percentage of consumers trusting tech companies to bring driverless cars to market rose from 17% in 2017 to 21% in 2018.

Mike Woodward, UK automotive leader at Deloitte, said: “The significant improvement in consumer trust in autonomous vehicles is a critical step in progressing driverless technology.

“Although driverless cars are still at an experimental phase, building consumer trust in the industry will be a key step in its future success.”

Consumers still steering clear of electric cars

While consumers are starting to embrace emerging technology in the form of autonomous vehicles, most still favour traditional petrol or diesel-powered vehicles over battery power.

Nearly three-quarters (73%) of UK consumers prefer either a petrol or diesel engine, and just 5% would choose an all battery powered electric engine as their next vehicle purchase.

Looking across Europe, consumers in Germany, Belgium, France and Italy all had greater appetites for electric vehicles than those in the UK.

UK consumers cite driving range (26%), price (24%) and lack of charging infrastructure (22%) as the main reasons for not choosing an electric vehicle. Long-term costs are a big factor – 37% say that lower ongoing operating costs would encourage them to consider going electric for their next vehicle.

Woodward added: “Two significant trends could move us closer to the tipping point: battery cost reduction and government regulation.

“The trend towards mandating electrified powertrains, not merely demanding increased fuel efficiency or better carbon footprints, lays out a ‘must-do’ path for car manufactures.

“As automakers simultaneously begin to partner on building out electric charging infrastructure and developing other value-added services that increase the convenience factor for consumers, electric vehicles could become a desirable alternative.”

It’s not all about technology – customer experience matters

The survey found that 71% of consumers who bought their car via a dealer rate customer experience as an important factor in choosing where to buy a vehicle.

The importance of relationships in dealer purchases are further highlighted by the fact that 60% of consumers visited the dealer where they made their purchase more than once.

During the buying process two-thirds (65%) of consumers still find printed brochures and spec sheets very useful in gathering information at the dealership. Other important experiences during the vehicle buying process are test driving (43%) and a quick/efficient buying process (38%).

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