New Car Buyers Bullish on Self Driving Vehicles. Maybe

AutoInformed on Autonomous VehiclesMore than 52% of new car buyers expect to own at least one self-driving automobile in their household in the next 10 years, according to a Bosch study. The survey reached 1,000 U.S. based new car buyers, aged 18 or older, who have purchased or leased at least one vehicle within the last five model years, and intend to buy or lease a new vehicle again in the future.

A bare majority of consumers accept the idea of owning a self-driving automobile in the next decade, many do not understand the advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), like automatic emergency braking (AEB), adaptive cruise control, and active safety technologies, such as electronic stability control (ESC), currently available on the market, many of them currently supplied by Bosch.

“There is clearly a lot of consumer excitement and intrigue about the topic of fully automated driving, but not a full understanding of the sophisticated options available today and the path to get there,” said Kay Stepper, vice president and regional business unit leader, driver assistance and automated driving, Robert Bosch. “The industry must help to adequately manage consumer expectations and show them the specific steps to help guard against rejection or over-acceptance of these important, life-saving technologies.” Well yes but some research suggest that 65% of current users are turning them off to silence the warning beeps.

Low Awareness of ADAS

The survey results revealed a key trend: new car buyers see ADAS features as future innovations, not necessarily as options that are accessible now. When asked to name the number one safety feature on their vehicle today, the most frequent answer from respondents was “airbag.” (Safety Belts should have done better.) When asked to name the number one safety feature on their vehicle in 10 years, the most frequent answer from respondents was either an ADAS or automated feature.

However, many ADAS and active safety features are available today, but the survey reveals that new car buyers have confusion about these systems. For example, only 21% of new car buyers thought electronic stability control (ESC), a system that functions independently of the driver’s action and can intervene when needed to keep drivers on the road and reduce rollover accidents, was available in all new automobiles. Meanwhile, ESC, first introduced to the market by Bosch in 1995, has been a mandated feature on all vehicles since the 2012 model year.

At the same time, there is confusion about emerging future automated technologies, as 18 % of survey respondents believe that all new vehicles on the market today are equipped with autopilot, when in fact, it is only available in limited capacity.

“Technology advances are happening thanks to innovative ideas as well as partnerships and industry collaboration, but we cannot lose sight of consumer acceptance,” Stepper said. According to the study, new car buyers see various potential benefits to self-driving vehicles. Notably:

  • 61 % of respondents believe a decrease in traffic accidents is a benefit of adopting automated vehicles;
  • 55 % of respondents noted more free time and lower stress levels as a benefit.

Despite these benefits, however, new car buyers are apprehensive about the reliability of automated vehicles. When asked about their greatest concerns relating to self-driving vehicles:

  • 72% of respondents indicated lack of control is one of the biggest considerations;
  • 65% of those surveyed also noted that the unproven technology is an issue.
  • Nearly 59% of respondents believe a traditional car is better when it comes to the purchase price;
  • Additionally, more than 47% of those surveyed believe repair and maintenance costs would be more manageable in a traditional vehicle compared to a self-driving one.

In terms of prestige, sustainability and comfort, however, automated vehicles are the popular choice. Specifically,

  • More than 52% of respondents believe self-driving cars will be the next status symbol;
  • Another 52% of respondents indicate self-driving cars will have the best fuel economy;
  • Nearly 50% of respondents believe self-driving cars will offer the best in passenger comfort.

To see more about how Bosch is teaching the vehicle to drive and the building blocks for automated driving, visit the Bosch Automated Mobility Academy:


About Ken Zino

Ken Zino is an auto industry veteran with global experience in print and electronic media. He has auto testing, marketing, public relations and communications expertise garnered while working in Asia, Europe and the U.S.
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