Public distrust in the safety of autonomous vehicles could stand in the way of such vehicles coming to market, according to a late January study conducted by Deloitte.
A staggering 75 percent of U.S. drivers do not believe autonomous cars will be safe to ride in, reads the study, which surveyed 22,000 drivers from 17 countries on the topics of autonomous cars, alternative powertrains, and high-tech gadgetry.
Interestingly, 81 percent of South Koreans responded they thought autonomous cars unsafe; and 79 percent of Japanese citizens believed self-driving cars will be prone to accidents. The countries are, ironically, two of the world’s most technologically advanced.
However, trust in specific brands could sway some drivers’ opinions, with just over half of U.S. respondents saying they were willing to try a ride in an autonomous car built by a company they trust.
Tesla was not one of those brands. Only 20 percent of Americans said they would trust the safety of an autonomous car built by Tesla—likely influenced by the report of the death of a driver in an autonomously driven Tesla.
The study also found the vast majority of drivers in developed countries aren’t interested in alternative powertrains; modern and invasive driver safety technologies; or futuristic connectivity technologies, demonstrating a massive disconnect between public demand and automotive segment development.
For instance, 84 percent of German drivers, 86 percent of Japanese drivers, and 68 percent of U.S. drivers are not interested in more connectivity technologies being added to their cars—like car-to-car communication technologies, for example.
Much of the discrepancy between consumer interest and the direction of automotive design can be accounted for by government regulatory edicts, which specify cars must be sold with some of the very technology most consumers do not care to purchase.
“Automakers are under significant pressure to invest more heavily and place bigger bets with less certain returns than we have seen in this industry in several generations,” said Craig Giffi, who co-authored Deloitte’s study findings.
Giffi says car manufacturers need to gradually convince the public autonomous car technologies will be safe to ride along with, in order to earn their full trust.
“To win consumers’ trust, automakers will need to integrate limited self-driving and advanced safety features into new product offerings steadily over time to introduce people to the technology,” concluded Giffi.