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2019 Global Automotive Consumer Study

Consumer trends in the automotive industry

For the past 10 years, Deloitte has surveyed consumers around the world to identify trends in the automotive industry across countries and generations. Explore the latest data and insights around automotive consumer trends in our 2019 Global Automotive Consumer Study.

Consumers pump the brakes on autonomous vehicle adoption

Consumer interest in self-driving vehicles lags the pace of investment in advanced vehicle technology, according to data from our most recent annual survey, the 2019 Deloitte Global Automotive Consumer Study. In this year’s study, we continue to examine consumer interest in advanced automotive technologies, including autonomous vehicles, and compare and contrast automotive consumer trends in markets worldwide.

Key findings:
  • Consumer trust in autonomous vehicles (AVs) appears to be stalling. In the United States, 50 percent of survey respondents do not believe AVs will be safe—nearly the same as last year’s 47 percent but drastically different from 2017, when 74 percent voiced safety concerns. Consumer confidence in AV safety also plateaued in China, Japan, South Korea, India, and Germany.
  • Consumers now have more choice than ever about mobility, leading to an array of new decisions about how to get around and how to connect while they’re on the move.
  • Consumers are looking to governments to increase regulation. An overwhelming percentage of consumers in most countries indicated they wanted “significant oversight,” including 56 percent of US consumers.
  • Electric vehicles (EVs) have captured worldwide consumer interest. While 29 percent of US survey respondents would prefer a hybrid, battery, or another alternative to traditional drive-trains for their next vehicle—up from 20 percent last year—low fuel prices, relaxed emissions standards, and fewer rebates could dampen US EV adoption.

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Automotive consumer trends: New choices for mobility and connectivity

Consumers now have more choice than ever about mobility and connectivity, whether they’re deciding which car to buy or lease or how to get from point A to B. More choice means more new decisions for consumers:

  • Ride-hailing irregularities: In 2017, 23 percent of US consumers used ride-hailing at least once a week, and another 22 percent used it occasionally. Fast forward to 2019, and the percentage of regular users has been cut in half to 12 percent, while the proportion of occasional users has increased twofold to 46 percent. Occasional ride-hailers have followed a similar path in India and China, though both countries saw substantial growth in the volume of occasional ride-hailers, growing from 85 to 90 percent in India between 2017 and 2019 and 75 to 83 percent in China over the same period.
  • A generational divide: Younger consumers are more likely to question whether vehicle ownership is a necessity than older generations. Japan leads the pack, where 60 percent of Generations Y/Z say ride-hailing makes them question whether they need to own a vehicle, followed by 53 percent for Gen X and 45 percent of Baby Boomers. In the US, that number is 46 percent for US Gen Y/Z consumers, but that is down 20 percentage points from 64 percent in 2017.
  • Convenience over savings: The majority (56 percent) of Americans are not interested in ridesharing services—such as professional micro-buses and other similar multi-rider options—and 47 percent of German consumers prefer to use their vehicles daily. Using multiple modes of transportation in one trip is largely an occasional undertaking in the United States, where 39 percent of US consumers report they never combine different modes in a single trip.

Along with new transportation options, connectivity has unlocked an array of new choices for consumers purchasing vehicles:

  • Top priorities: Interest in connected features such as traffic congestion tracking and road-safety alerts is universally high, with 75 percent and 71 percent of US consumers seeking these features, respectively. This strongly aligns with what 43 percent of US consumers say is the most important aspect of mobility: Getting to their destination in the least amount of time.
  • Costs and benefits of connectivity: Less than half of surveyed US consumers (47 percent) are sold on the idea of connectivity, but opinions vary globally. Twice as many people in China (79 percent) and India (76 percent) agreed that increased connectivity will lead to substantial benefits than in Japan (36 percent) and Germany (35 percent).
  • Pros and cons of data collection and privacy: Connected vehicles sensors can track everything from powertrain performance and operational statistics to geolocation information and occupant wellness. Roughly two-thirds (63 percent) of US consumers are concerned about biometric data being captured via a connected vehicle and shared with external parties; 40 percent of people in China and Japan say the same.
  • Reluctance to pay more for options: Once consumers are sold on a feature, they aren’t necessarily sold on the price. One third (33 percent) of US consumers would be unwilling to pay more for a connected vehicle, and a slightly larger portion (42 percent) would only pay up to $500 more for this functionality. German consumers feel similarly, with 40 percent willing to pay €600 more (approximately US$680). While a higher share of Japanese consumers (72 percent) are willing to pay extra, their upper limit was only ¥50,000 (approximately US$450).

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Other automotive trends: Consumers and government oversight, hybrids

Consumers want strong regulation for new tech. As consumers look to the automotive future, they may not always associate emerging technology with traditional car manufacturers. In the United States, the number of surveyed consumers who said they trust traditional original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to bring AV technology to market continues to slip, falling from 47 percent in 2018 to 39 percent in 2019. Even in Germany, where trust in OEMs has traditionally been fairly solid, this proportion has dropped rapidly from 51 percent in 2017 to 33 percent in 2019.

With an ongoing lack of trust in the private sector, consumers are looking to governments to increase regulation. An overwhelming percentage of consumers in most countries indicated they wanted “significant oversight,” including 56 percent of US consumers.

Hybrid electric vehicles still struggle for attention. People around the globe now see electrified powertrains as viable options. In the United States, 29 percent of survey respondents would prefer a non-traditional powertrain for their next vehicle, up from 20 percent last year. In US markets, low fuel prices, relaxed emissions standards, and fewer rebates will likely keep EV adoption rates contained.

Interest in EVs is strong in Asia, with China in the lead, where 65 percent of people surveyed would prefer an alternative powertrain in their next vehicle, followed by Japan (59 percent), Korea (43 percent) and India (39 percent).

Adoption of EVs will likely play out differently in other regions. Stronger policies to address pollution concerns and foreign oil reliance in China may encourage faster EV adoption, while European countries including Norway, Britain, France, and the Netherlands have announced plans to ban the sale of conventional gas- and diesel-fueled vehicles over the next two or three decades. While both regions may be poised for increased EV adoption, change will not be immediate: Traditional vehicles currently make up the bulk of cars on the road, and these cars boast a life expectancy of more than 10 years.

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About the Deloitte Global Automotive Consumer Study

In September and October of 2018, Deloitte surveyed more than 25,000 consumers in 20 countries around the world to explore consumer automotive trends and preferences on a variety of critical issues in the automotive sector. The goal of the annual study is to answer key questions that can help companies prioritize and better position business strategies and investments.

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