Consumers pump the brakes on autonomous vehicle adoption
As part of Deloitte’s latest Global Automotive Consumer Study, thousands of consumers shared their views on critical issues affecting the automotive sector
Published: 11 June 2019
As autonomous vehicle (AV) technology gets ever-closer to scalable, real-world application, consumer trust in the safety of AVs appears to be stalling, according to the 2019 Deloitte Global Automotive Consumer Study.
"In Asia Pacific, consumer perception of how safe self-driving vehicles are has stalled in the last year as reports of accidents have had a significant effect. Most consumers now want their governments to control the development and use of AVs,” says Dr. Marco Hecker, Deloitte China automotive sector leader. "However, consumers in China remain generally positive about the potential benefits of self-driving vehicles, with over 80 percent saying travelling in a fully self-driving car will be a positive experience."
The drive to electrification
This year’s study uncovered increasing consumer demand for electric vehicles (EVs), revealing electrification could have a more immediate impact on global mobility than AVs.
"Electric vehicle (EV) demand is growing in Asia Pacific and the EU due to supportive environmental policies, big-brand bets, and shifting consumer attitudes, but low fuel prices in North America are keeping consumers away," says Hecker.
While some barriers to mass adoption remain such as increasingly outdated concerns regarding vehicle range and charging infrastructure , demand for EVs and alternative powertrain technology is growing across the Asia-Pacific region. Interest is growing fastest in China and Japan, where 65 and 59 percent respectively would prefer a nontraditional powertrain – including hybrid, battery or other alternative – for their next vehicle. China in particular has been quickly putting the pieces in place to drive global EV growth to address pollution problems, reduce its reliance on imported oil, and stake a leadership claim on the next era of global mobility.
Mobility revolution faces headwinds
The mobility revolution seems to be running up against entrenched consumer behavior, as consumers remain committed to private car ownership, ride-hailing slows, and multi-modal transport is used only occasionally. Yet the data uncovers a clear generational divide, revealing that the shared mobility future hinges on younger people who are typically more comfortable embracing digital technologies.
- Private-car ownership continues to prevail: Daily use of personally-owned vehicles is high in some Asia Pacific markets, but even where use is lower, the status quo is expected to sustain. The percentage of consumers that use their own vehicle every day ranges between 59 percent in Southeast Asia and Australia, to 21 percent in Japan. Respondents across markets indicated they expect this usage to remain about the same over the next three years.
- Multi-modal transportation remains low: The idea of integrating multiple modes of mobility, such as a subway or a commuter train in addition to a private vehicle, into one trip remains largely an occasional behavior for consumers.
- Ride-hailing slows: Although ride-hailing has been integrated into some markets, the number of people reporting regular use has decreased in the last two years.
- Generational divide: Compared to older generations, younger consumers are more likely to understand the idea of shared mobility and to question whether vehicle ownership is a necessity. Japan leads the pack, with 60 percent of Generations Y/Z saying ride hailing makes them question whether they need to own a vehicle, followed by 53 percent of Gen X and 45 percent of Baby Boomers.
Connectivity has also unlocked an array of new choices in vehicle purchases:
- Top priorities: Survey respondents overwhelmingly favored connected vehicle features that save them time and ensure their safety. Updates on traffic congestion and alternate routes, suggestions on safer routes, and updates to improve road safety and prevent potential collisions were consistently listed as the top three connected car features.
- Consumers split on the benefits of connectivity: Consumers in China (79 percent) are embracing the idea of vehicle connectivity at more than twice the rate of those in Japan (36 percent) and Australia (44 percent).
- Data collection and privacy: Connected-vehicle sensors can track everything from powertrain performance and operational statistics to geolocation information and the health of occupants. More than half of respondents in India, South Korea and Australia are concerned about biometric data being captured via a connected vehicle and shared with external parties. This concern was less prevalent in Japan, China and Southeast Asia.
- Who should manage the data?: Consumer concern extends to who should manage the data being generated and shared by connected vehicles. Some would trust original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), but many would prefer anybody else, including government, auto dealers, insurance companies and cloud service providers.
- Willing to pay for connectivity: Apart from in Australia, consumers in Asia Pacific would pay for access to a vehicle with advanced connectivity. Over 90 percent of Chinese consumers would pay more for a vehicle that can communicate with other vehicles and road infrastructure to improve safety. Time saving and road safety are the most favored connected vehicle features in every Asia Pacific market.
Utopian visions of future of mobility systems will not come to fruition overnight. As global consumers start to critically evaluate advanced vehicle technologies and whether they are willing to pay for them, OEMs need to push forward costly R&D programs with little assurance as to when these will realize a return.
“The need to innovate on several fronts simultaneously is putting automakers and suppliers under tremendous pressure. Light vehicle demand has crested in several markets and alternative mobility models are causing people to wonder whether they will need to own a car. This means there might not be a seat at the table for everyone, which would prompt increased consolidation in the sector through acquisition or rationalization,” says Andy Zhou, Deloitte China automotive sector consulting leader.
About the Global Automotive Consumer Study
Deloitte recently surveyed over 25,000 consumers in September and October 2018 across 20 countries around the world to explore consumer preferences regarding a variety of critical issues impacting the automotive sector. The overall goal of the study is to answer important questions that can help companies prioritize and better position their business strategies and investments.