Surprise, the answer is... Google. Nearly every automaker is working on some form of autonomous vehicle technology, but according to a new study, consumers are more interested in a self-driving car from Google than General Motors. The study, conducted by U.S. audit and advisory firm KPMG, polled a diverse group of drivers from both coasts and in between
Some cool stuff from the Wired article/report:
“We believe that self-driving cars will be profoundly disruptive to the traditional automotive ecosystem,” said Gary Silberg, KPMG auto expert and author of the report. The company’s polling bears that out, although KPMG is quick to add the caveat that while “focus group discussions are valuable for the qualitative, directional insights they provide; they are not statistically valid.”
California drivers were significantly more interested in autonomous vehicles from the onset of the discussions, with L.A. residents ranking their willingness to use a self-driving car at 9 out of 10. Chicago residents came in at four, and New Jersey drivers’ median was six.
Additionally, premium vehicle owners — who made up nearly a third of the focus group — were more interested in autonomous vehicles and self-driving technology.
In Silberg’s estimation, the reason is that Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz drivers are “already accustomed to high-tech bells and whistles, so adding a ‘self-driving package’ is just another option.” Throw in the possibility of a special lane on highways for autonomous vehicles and the ability to turn the system on and off at will, and premium buyers were sold on the option full-stop.
But the major takeaways from the study are that consumers — while still concerned about safety and liability — are increasingly interested in autonomous cars, as long as the benefits outweigh the costs, and the company manufacturing is seen as being at the top of their game. And while 0-60 times and horsepower may be of interest to consumers now, if you’ve ceded control to the machine, style and functionality will trump performance and driver engagement.
Like any complex product, I can see a further diversification of offerings -- sports cars, hybrids, sport-ute/SUVs, and others demonstrate this slicing of the offerings. Why not a self-drive, too?