Trust in automation technology including driverless cars is very much age dependent, as younger consumers have a notably higher level of confidence in the technology than their older counterparts, according to the J.D. Power 2016 U.S. Tech Choice Study.
While less than one-quarter of Baby Boomers say they trust self-driving cars, while more than half of younger consumers do. Many younger drivers would pay as much as $3,000 or more for autonomous technology.
The study finds that customers in general are very interested in a number of automotive technology features linked to fully automated vehicles such as radar, sensors, light detection and ranging (LIDAR) and cameras. Features with high consumer interest include smart headlights, night vision, lane change assist, traffic jam assist, medical emergency stop, smart intersection and predictive vehicle control.
However, when it comes to making the leap to fully automated cars, trust in the technology is directly linked to the age of the consumer. J.D. Power defines the generations as Pre-Boomers (born before 1946); Baby Boomers (1946-1964); Gen X (1965-1976); Gen Y (1977-1994); and Gen Z (1995-2000 for this study.
More than half of Gen Y (56 percent) and Gen Z (55 percent) vehicle owners say they trust self-driving technology, compared with 41 percent of Gen X, 23 percent percent of Baby Boomers and 18 percent of Pre-Boomers. Further, only 27 percent of Gen X, 18 percent of Gen Y and 11 percent of Gen Z consumers say they “definitely would not” trust the technology, while 39 percent of Baby Boomers and 40 percent of Pre-Boomers say the same.
The one view all generations share is a concern for technology security, specifically surrounding privacy and the potential for systems to be hacked, hijacked or to crash (either the vehicle or the system itself).
“The level of trust is directly linked to the level of interest in a new technology among automobile buyers,” said Kristin Kolodge, executive director of driver interaction & HMI research at J.D. Power. “Acceptance can be increased with exposure over time and experience with automated technologies. But trust is fragile and can be broken if there is an excessive number of incidents with automated vehicles.”
Gen Y and Gen Z vehicle owners are twice as likely as Gen X and five times as likely as Boomers and Pre-Boomers to show interest in certain alternative mobility types, such as ridesharing on-demand or co-ownership of a vehicle.
Furthermore, the study finds that 59 percent of Gen Y vehicle owners say they are “definitely” or “probably” interested in fully automated vehicles and 32 percent of them would pay $3,000 or more for the technology. Among the four alternative mobility types, interest levels are highest among all generations for unmanned mobility.
When those surveyed were shown the fair market value for the technologies, two of the four safety-related technologies on the top 10 list—night vision ($2,000) and lane change assist ($1,500)—fall out of the top 10, while camera rear-view mirror ($300) and camera side-view mirrors ($400) remain. The most desired features after the price is shown are economy navigation system ($60); simple wireless device connection ($60); camera rear-view mirror ($300); smart parking ($100); and predictive traffic ($150). Among the top 10 most desired technologies, self-healing paint has the highest price point at $500.
Night vision has the third-highest pre-price interest, with 70% of vehicle owners saying they “definitely would” or “probably would” want the technology in their next vehicle, yet drops to 23rd overall after owners are shown its $2,000 price tag. However, interest in night vision jumps to 36% from 16% when the price for this technology is reduced to $1,400.
The 2016 U.S. Tech Choice Study was fielded in February through March 2016 and is based on an online survey of more than 7,900 consumers who purchased/leased a new vehicle in the past five years.
Source: J.D. Power
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