Poll shows most want traditional companies to build self driving cars

The World Economic Forum and Boston Consulting Group recently surveyed 6,000 people from 10 countries about their attitudes toward self driving cars. Nearly 70% said they would be most interested in one if it was built by a partnership between a traditional auto maker and a tech company. Although no one knows for certain, it seems that Google is the one company working on autonomous driving technology that has not expressed an interest in building its own cars. It has repeatedly hinted it prefers to partner with an existing auto manufacturer.

The people surveyed live in the US, France, Germany, Japan, India, China and the United Arab Emirates, among others. Between 50% and 58% of respondents in France, Germany, and Japan reported they trust traditional auto companies to make self driving cars. Only 32% of US residents said automakers would be the ideal manufacturer of such vehicles.

“This survey is reassuring news for traditional automotive companies,” says Nikolaus Lang, a BCG senior partner who worked on the research. “Our results indicate that consumers primarily expect original equipment manufacturers to play a leading role in the roll out of self driving vehicles, with technology players such as Apple and Google contributing their relevant expertise.”

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Two thirds of those polled predicted self driving cars would be powered by either electric or hybrid engines. The survey found that 60% of people are eager to try a self driving car. That interest is especially high among respondents in emerging markets with high density cities — 85% in India and 75% in China. Even though Japan has many densely populated cities, only 36% of its citizens said they are looking forward to self driving cars.

44% of poeple said that self driving cars appealed to them because they can drop people off and then find parking spaces for themselves. 40% like the ability to multitask while riding. The poll found that 53% of respondents would buy their own autonomous car. 40% saying they would pay a premium for self driving features.

Not everyone is convinced that autonomous cars are safe. 51% expressed concerns about being driven by a robot, with 45% lamenting the lack of control over a car with no steering wheel, gas or brake pedals. Those concerns also carry over to the possibility of hackers breaking in and redirecting the car. Only 35% of parents polled said they would be willing to let their children ride alone in a self driving car.

Since self driving cars are not even here yet, this survey does little more than measure opinions about future events. But it is interesting to note that the majority of people are receptive to the idea of self driving cars — an idea that will begin to translate into reality in 5 years or less.

Posted by Steve Hanley

Steve Hanley is a car nut and Formula One addict who occasionally drives his Mazda MX-5 on track at HPDE events. He has been known to drive to Nova Scotia just to see the lupins in bloom or to Watkins Glen for a weekend of historic racing. He writes about automobiles, technology and travel from his home in Rhode Island.

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