SANTA MONICA, CA: Most Americans profess a fear of riding in a self-driving vehicle but they may be more ready for autonomous vehicles than they realize, according to a new report.
That’s because many are already buying vehicles with active safety features installed, according to Edmunds, the car shopping and information platform: nearly two thirds of new vehicles for sale offer autonomous features.
“While some car buyers may view a fully autonomous vehicle as a novelty, a vehicle that has the ability to prevent an accident before it occurs is seen as a safety breakthrough,” explained Jessica Caldwell, Edmunds executive director of industry analysis.
In a recent Edmunds survey, more than 40% of consumers said they would spend between $1,000 and $2,000 more for a vehicle that had active safety features, such as blind-spot detection, pre-collision warning systems and lane keeping assist.
“Usually it takes a long time for pricey new technologies to work their way down market from luxury to mainstream vehicles, but because changes in policy are mandating that many active safety features become standard, it’s happening much more quickly,” Caldwell said.
“Automakers that offer a full suite of active safety features on their vehicles are at a distinct advantage in the race to autonomy,” she added.
“It’s a way they can demonstrate their technology leadership to car buyers now so that when full autonomy does come, they’ve already established trust and credibility with a large base of potential buyers.”
An AAA survey earlier this year found 78% of respondents were afraid of the prospect of riding in driverless cars, while 54% said they would feel less safe sharing the roads with them. But anecdotal evidence suggests that such anxieties can be overcome with as few as four days’ experience of using one.
While Edmunds’ research suggests that millennials are far more open to the idea of such vehicles – 65% would trust a Level 4 autonomous vehicle (one which is “officially driverless in certain environments” and “can drive safely on its own even if a driver chooses not to intervene when asked”) – Caldwell argued that the proliferation of active safety features would make older buyers more comfortable with autonomous technology.
Sourced from Edmunds, New York Times, USA Today; additional content by WARC staff