Younger drivers are more likely than their older counterparts to trust autonomous technology, a study released today by J.D. Power found.
More than half of those born after 1976 say they trust autonomous tech, compared with 41 percent in Generation X (born from 1965-76), 23 percent of baby boomers (born from 1946-64) and 18 percent of the pre-boomer generation (born before 1946), J.D. Power’s annual U.S. Tech Choice Study found.
About 59 percent of Generation Y, those born from 1977 to 1994, say they would likely be interested in fully autonomous cars, while 34 percent of all drivers expressed an interest in full self-driving tech.
Autonomous cars, under development by automakers and tech companies including General Motors, Ford, Toyota, Google, Apple and Daimler, are seen by proponents as a way to make driving safer and more convenient, though Power said the results of its latest survey show companies have a long way to go to gain older drivers’ trust.
“The level of trust is directly linked to the level of interest in a new technology among automobile buyers,” said Kristin Kolodge, J.D. Power executive director of driver interaction, in a statement. “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.”
Speaking at an Automotive Press Association luncheon in Detroit, Kolodge said automakers might be best off installing autonomous technologies on vehicles aimed at younger people, as opposed to installing them on higher-end vehicles first.
“Counter to saying let’s put full automation on our premium, luxury, high-end vehicles first, what about going after this market that has the interest already with this type of technology? That gives the other generations more time and exposure to understand the benefits of those technologies, to build trust and to recognize their market-readiness,” she said.
J.D. Power said safety concerns about autonomous vehicles were shared across the board, with consumers of all ages pointing to cyberhacking.
The pace at which new technologies can be introduced into vehicles will have to do in large part with how quickly the industry can gain drivers’ trust on reliability and security, Kolodge said.
“Consumers are going to decide what technologies win,” she said. “Change will move as fast or as slow as it brings value to the consumers.”
Younger drivers are also more likely than older ones to be interested in “alternative mobility,” including ride-sharing services such as Uber, and vehicle co-ownership.
Not all technology proved divisive, though. Technologies including camera-based rearview mirrors, smart headlights, night vision and self-healing paint were deemed desirable by at least 63 percent of all drivers.
But some technology became less desirable when factoring price. For instance, when drivers surveyed were told that night vision would cost an extra $2,000 and lane-change assist would cost an additional $1,500, interest in those features declined.
Technologies with the lowest interest included trailer-connect assist, at 25 percent, and trailer towing visibility, at 29 percent, both of which have a limited target audience.
J.D. Power conducted the online study of 7,900 consumers from Feb. 10 through March 10. Each respondent has bought or leased a new vehicle within the last five years.