Consumers’ appetite for self-driving vehicles lags the automotive industry’s pace of investment in advanced vehicle technology, according to the 2019 Deloitte Global Automotive Consumer Study.
In the United States, 50 percent of survey respondents do not believe autonomous vehicles (AVs) will be safe — nearly the same as last year’s 47 percent. That’s different from consumer sentiment in 2017, when 74 percent voiced concerns about these vehicles’ safety. Other markets saw similar plateauing, with the share of consumers in China, Japan and South Korea who believe AVs will not be safe decreasing modestly, and Indian and German consumers both showing slight increases in their distrust.
“Autonomous vehicles have begun to enter the real world in pilot testing and have consequently encountered real-world challenges,” said Craig Giffi, vice chairman of Deloitte and U.S. automotive sector leader. “A series of high-profile incidents may have contributed to the plateau in consumer trust in this year’s study, but there will likely be a longer-term trend toward gradual acceptance. Even so, consumers have a much higher bar for acceptance of fully autonomous vehicles than for driver assistance safety technology.”
With consumers having more choices with regard to mobility, that plethora of choices brings an array of new decisions for consumers …
• In 2017, 23 percent of U.S. consumers used ride-hailing at least once a week, and another 22 percent used it occasionally. But, in Deloitte’s latest study, the percentage of regular users fell to 12 percent, while the proportion of occasional users increased twofold to 46 percent.
• Younger consumers are more likely to question whether vehicle ownership is a necessity than older generations. Japan leads the way, where 60 percent of Generations Y and Z believe ride hailing makes them question whether they need to own a vehicle, followed by 53 percent for Gen X and 45 percent for Baby Boomers. In the United States, the number is 46 percent for Generation Y and Z consumers — down 20 percentage points from 64 percent in 2017.
• 56 percent of Americans are not interested in ridesharing services — such as professional micro-buses and other similar multi-rider options — and using multiple modes of transportation in one trip is largely an occasional undertaking in the United States, where 39 percent of consumers report that they never combine different modes in a single trip.
Along with new transportation options, connectivity has unlocked an array of new choices for consumers purchasing vehicles, many of whom are divided, according to Deloitte …
• Interest in connected features such as traffic congestion tracking and road-safety alerts is high, with 75 percent and 71 percent of U.S. consumers seeking these features, respectively.
• This strongly aligns with what 43 percent of U.S. consumers say is the most important aspect of mobility: getting to their destination in the least amount of time.
• 47 percent of surveyed U.S. consumers are sold on the idea of connectivity, with opinions varying globally. Twice as many people in China (79 percent) and India (76 percent) agree that increased connectivity will lead to substantial benefits than in Japan (36 percent) and Germany (35 percent).
• Connected-vehicle sensors can track everything from powertrain performance and operational statistics to geolocation information and occupant wellness. Roughly two-thirds (63 percent) of U.S. consumers are concerned about biometric data being captured via a connected vehicle and shared with external parties.
• 33 percent of U.S. consumers would be unwilling to pay more for a connected vehicle, and 42 percent would only pay as much as $500 more for this functionality.
“Connected, electrified, and autonomous vehicles offer tremendous value for society, but consumers may be slow to adopt these advanced technologies at scale until there is clear and undisputed improvement in safety, cost, convenience and superior customer experience from a trusted brand,” said Joe Vitale of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited and global automotive sector leader.
The number of U.S. consumers who said they trust traditional OEMs to bring AV technology to market continues to slip, falling from 47 percent in 2018 to 39 percent in 2019. And, an overwhelming percentage of consumers in most countries want “significant” government oversight, including 56 percent of U.S. consumers.
According to Deloitte, people around the world see electrified powertrains as viable options, but electric vehicles (EVs) still face some bumps in the road. In the United States, 29 percent would prefer a nontraditional powertrain (including hybrid, battery or other alternative) for their next vehicle — up from 20 percent last year. A low fuel price environment, coupled with relaxed emissions standards and fewer available rebates, will likely keep EV adoption rates contained in the U.S. market, according to Deloitte.
Interest in Asian countries is far higher than that of the United States, and adoption of EVs will likely play out differently in different regions. Stronger policies to address pollution concerns and foreign oil reliance in China may encourage faster EV adoption, while European countries — including Norway, Great Britain, France and the Netherlands — have announced plans to ban the sale of conventional gas- and diesel-fueled vehicles over the next two to three decades.