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Deloitte Study: Trust in autonomous technology most improved among consumers in China, while trust in who can bring autonomy to market diverges across Asia

  • Latest Global Automotive Consumer Study reveals consumers across Asia Pacific are warming up to the idea that fully autonomous vehicles will be safe
  • Trust has improved most in China; a majority of consumers in Japan and Korea (Republic of) continue to feel self-driving vehicles will not be safe
  • Trust in who brings autonomous technology to market diverges across Asia Pacific; the majority in many markets trust a non-automaker most

Published: 7 June 2018

Over the last year, perceptions among consumers across Asia Pacific has improved significantly regarding the safety of fully autonomous vehicles (AVs), but a majority are also skeptical about original equipment manufacturers’ (OEMs) ability to deliver AV technology to market.

According to Deloitte’s “Global Automotive Consumer Study,” consumers across Asia Pacific have greater trust in driverless cars versus consumers in many other major markets worldwide. Trust among consumers has improved the most over the last year in China compared to other Asia Pacific markets in the study.

In the latest study, 74 percent of consumers in China feel fully autonomous vehicles will be safe, compared to only 38 percent in 2017. This improvement is on par with Mexico and Italy, which along with China, lead all markets in the study with a 36 percent improvement in consumer trust in autonomous vehicles over the last year.  In contrast, trust improved least in South Africa (16 percent), India (17 percent), and Southeast Asia1 (19 percent). Consumer trust in the United States and Germany improved 27 percent (2017 vs. 2018).

Confidence in autonomous vehicles established

Though trust in autonomous vehicles is growing overall according to Deloitte’s global study, particularly across Asia Pacific, the significant improvement in an automotive market as large as China could position the country as a leader in the adoption of fully autonomous technology among major automotive markets.

“Against the greater backdrop of evolving consumer sentiment towards autonomous vehicles, Asia Pacific stands out as, perhaps, the most receptive market to these technologies,” said Marco Hecker, auto sector leader, Deloitte China. “Driverless cars are still in a developmental phase and yet to be available to the majority of consumers. However, the growing confidence consumers in Asia Pacific have regarding the safety of autonomy helps to establish further the technology while also signaling greater opportunity to commercialize the technology in the largest automotive market worldwide.”

Out with the old, in with the new to deliver AV technology

Though consumers in Asia Pacific express a brighter outlook on autonomous vehicles, traditional car manufacturers should take heed— there is still a significant difference among consumers across Asia Pacific regarding whom they would most trust to bring AV technology to market. For example, consumers in China place greater trust in new companies specializing in AV technologies when compared to OEMs trying to penetrate the space. Over half of Chinese consumers (53 percent) trust AV-focused companies to bring a fully self-driving vehicle to market. In comparison, only 28 percent trust traditional car manufacturers to do the same.

Meanwhile, in Japan, 76 percent of consumers trust traditional car manufacturers to bring a fully self-driving vehicle to market as compared to 12 percent of consumers trusting new AV-focused companies

India and China still lead the way in terms of consumers feeling more comfortable with AVs if they were offered by a brand they trust with the majority of Indian and Chinese consumers (85 and 84 percent, respectively) feeling this way.

“Many Chinese consumers, unlike their global counterparts, tend to view automotive OEMs as operating and delivering value narrowly under the traditional automotive business model of building, selling and servicing vehicles,” added Hecker. “As a result, trust in OEMs to bring self-driving technology to market is low in China compared to trust in specialized AV companies. Still, there is a valuable opportunity for OEMs to showcase that they can compete with specialized manufacturers, particularly if they leverage the brand appeal and brand loyalty they’ve established not only in this market, but also globally.”

As OEMs evolve to enter the AV market and modernize their sales channels, connection with customers will indeed be key. Thirty-six percent of consumers in Asia Pacific were never contacted by the auto manufacturer post vehicle purchase. If OEMs hope to win consumers’ trust in their ability to manufacture driverless vehicles, they will need to improve their customer experience.   

Alternative methods of power fuel the future in Asia Pacific

Interest in AV and alternative powertrain technologies also seem to be converging in Asia Pacific, potentially positioning the region where both advanced technologies will take hold on a massive scale. According to Deloitte’s consumer study, consumers in Asian markets are moving away from traditional gasoline and diesel engines in favor of alternative powertrain options.

In China, 61 percent of consumers would prefer a hybrid-electric, battery-electric or another form of alternative powertrain in their next vehicle as compared to 48 percent in Japan. Only Southeast Asia and Korea (Republic of) are bucking the trend as fewer consumers are looking for alternative powertrains in their next vehicle. In 2018, 40 percent of consumers in Korea (Republic of) expect their next car will have an alternative engine, down from 41 percent in 2017. While in Southeast Asia, the number of consumers dropped to 34 percent from 37 percent in 2017.

Hecker further noted, “The move to alternative powertrains in the Asia Pacific is attractive, driven by the potential for lower emissions, environmental responsibility, and reduced operating costs. As global car makers look to the future, they will need to weigh consumer demands to move away from traditional engines while also understanding key concerns of lack of charging infrastructure, price premiums, and range anxiety.”

About the Global Automotive Consumer Study 
As part of a continuous assessment of consumer behavior, Deloitte recently surveyed over 22,000 consumers in 17 countries around the world to shed light on 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.


1 Includes Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand

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