Although there is widespread interest in autonomous vehicles (AVs), the US—one of the largest auto markets in the world—expresses higher levels of resistance than most nations, according to a new study by Ipsos, a leading global market research firm.
Nearly one in four Americans “would never use” an autonomous vehicle, according to the study. Ipsos surveyed more than 21,000 adults across 28 countries about acceptance of AVs, which autonomous features are most in demand, potential ownership models and regulation options.
The study was conducted as part of its What the Future series, which couples survey data and interviews with experts in the field to see what “big questions” companies should be asking themselves about the future of their industries. This issue of What the Future focuses on mobility, and if people are ready for the coming technology. Despite American tech and automotive companies leading the way in AV development, Americans are among the most reluctant to use it. Those in China, in contrast, are twice as likely to say they “can’t wait” to use AVs than Americans or Canadians.
Other results from the report include:
More would prefer to continue owning their own vehicle (42%) than other proposed usage models including hiring one on a per-use basis (22%) or leasing one for a monthly subscription fee (14%).
Democrats (59%) were more likely than Republicans (46%) to say they had a favorable view of self-driving cars.
Many Americans are unsure where regulation should come from, but would prefer manufacturers and tech companies (36%) to self-regulate over government regulation (24%).
Cost will be a factor: 24% said they would switch to a self-driving car if it cost the same as their current car, but 45% would switch if it cost much less.
Many Americans (30%) would take more road trips in self-driving cars, including longer trips and new destinations.
Globally, a majority of those surveyed say that AVs will be easier, more comfortable safer, more relaxing, more economical, more enjoyable, and friendlier to the environment. Fewer think AVs will be faster.
Americans are more skeptical of touted benefits including improved safety, comfort and ease-of-use.
Autonomous parking is the feature respondents are most ready to use, with 58% saying they would utilize autonomous functionality “always or frequently.” Many (47%) would use it for commuting and in stop-and-go traffic, and 52% would use it for long-distance drives.
Younger Americans (under 35) have more favorable views of self-driving cars and their benefits
Ipsos suggested that perhaps the reluctance of Americans to embrace this emerging technology has to do with its strong identity as a car-culture. Nearly six in 10 people consider themselves “car people,” and 81% feel that the car they drive reflects their personality, a least to some degree. Digging deeper into the data, Ipsos found hints of a coming car-culture clash as noticeable divides about acceptance of autonomous vehicles are seen along political lines.
The safety improvements, potential cost-saving, and increased convenience might well prove a trifecta of benefits that can trump any sort of political discord. But social change on this scale does not happen without conflict, and those who do not plan for it will be the first to see their plans derailed by our age of uncertainty.—Clifford Young, President, US, Ipsos Public Affairs
For the global study, 21,549 interviews were conducted between 27 November to 8 December 2017 among adults aged 18-64 in the US and Canada, and adults aged 16-64 in all other countries. The survey was conducted in 28 countries around the world via the Ipsos Online Panel system: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, France, Great Britain, Germany, Hungary, India, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United States. Data is weighted to match the profile of the population.
Further US and Canadian data are from a series of Ipsos polls including: an Ipsos survey conducted between 16-20 February 2018 among 1,005 US adults; an Ipsos survey conducted between 19-21 December 2017 among 2,000 US adults; and, an Ipsos survey conducted between 23-26 February 2018 among 1,000 Canadian adults; and an Ipsos survey conducted between 20-22 February 20 2018 among 1,002 Canadian adults.
Weighting was then employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample’s composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval.
In this case, the poll is accurate to within ±3.5 percentage points for the n=1000 surveys and ±2.9 percentage points for the N=2000 survey, 19 times out of 20, had all citizens been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.