Autonomous Vehicles Face Uphill Climb in the US

April 28, 2022

This article is included in these additional categories:

Automotive | Demographics & Audiences | Industries | Youth & Gen X

Safety ratings matter a lot more than driver assist features to new vehicle intenders in the US, according to a study [download page] from Morning Consult, and there’s a lot of work for autonomous vehicle makers to do to convince them that these vehicles are at least as safe as traditional vehicles, per the report.

Among US adults who intend to buy a vehicle within the next 3 years, 60% said that safety ratings are a top priority, and an additional 30% said they are important though not a top priority. This put safety ratings behind only quality, cost, and gas mileage in terms of priorities for these respondents’ next vehicle purchase.

That spells trouble for autonomous vehicle makers: separate results from the report, from a survey of 2,200 US adults, found that only about one-third believe that self-driving vehicles are either safer (19%) or about as safe (16%) as traditional vehicles. By contrast, roughly half (49%) feel that they’re less safe.

What’s more, the percentage who believe they’re safer has slowly declined in recent years, from 27% in March and April 2018.

Meanwhile, driver assist features rank low on the list of important priorities for new vehicle intenders. One-quarter say this is a top priority for them, although an additional 36% say it’s an important element without being a top priority.

This aligns with earlier research from Ipsos, in which US vehicle owners appeared to have a relatively low interest in autonomous features, with little more than one-quarter (28%) expressing interest in 2020 (compared to 27% in 2019).

All told, only one-third of US adults responding to Morning Consult’s survey said they had a very (12%) or somewhat (22%) favorable opinion of autonomous vehicles based on what they have seen, read, or heard about them. That figure is well outweighed by the 49% who have a somewhat (24%) or very (25%) unfavorable view of them.

In contrast to that net -15 rating (favorable 34% – unfavorable 49%), young adults are more generous in their views. Gen Z adults have a net positive rating of 9% (43% positive – 34% negative) while Millennials are the most eager, with a net positive rating of +20% (51% positive – 31% negative).

Likewise, while about one-third of US adults surveyed have a lot (9%) or some (25%) trust in autonomous vehicles, that figure shoots up to 48% (18% and 30%, respectively) among Millennials.

Overall, some 22% of respondents would be willing to ride in an autonomous vehicle.

For more details, download the report here.

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