Press releases

Fears about the safety of driverless cars diminishing

19 March 2018

  • Just 49% of UK consumers believe self-driving vehicles will not be safe, down from 73% in 2017;
  • Over 50% of UK consumers would feel better about riding in a fully self-driving vehicle offered by a brand they trust;
  • 73% of consumers prefer either a gasoline or diesel engine to hybrid or electric.

Consumers are increasingly confident about the safety of autonomous vehicles, according to the 2018 Global Automotive Consumer Study by Deloitte. Just under half (49%) of UK respondents believe autonomous vehicles will not be safe, but this is down from 73% last year. This trend is consistent with the responses from other countries* covered in the survey.

Among the factors influencing consumer attitudes is trusted brands’ growing involvement in the development of autonomous vehicles. Over half (53%) of respondents said they would feel better about travelling in an autonomous vehicle manufactured by a trusted brand, up from 44% last year.
When asked about the types of company they would trust most to bring self-driving technology to the market, consumer confidence in traditional car manufacturers still outweighs that in technology companies (51% vs 21%). The percentage of consumers trusting tech companies to bring driverless cars to market rose from 17% in 2017 to 21% in 2018.

Mike Woodward, UK automotive leader at Deloitte, said: “The significant improvement in consumer trust in autonomous vehicles is a critical step in progressing driverless technology. Although driverless cars are still at an experimental phase, building consumer trust in the industry will be a key step in its future success.”

Consumers still steering clear of electric cars

While consumers are starting to embrace emerging technology in the form of autonomous vehicles, most still favour traditional petrol or diesel powered vehicles over battery power. Nearly three-quarters (73%) of UK consumers prefer either a petrol or diesel engine, and just 5% would choose an all battery powered electric engine as their next vehicle purchase. Looking across Europe, consumers in Germany, Belgium, France and Italy** all had greater appetites for electric vehicles than those in the UK.

UK consumers cite driving range (26%), price (24%) and lack of charging infrastructure (22%) as the main reasons for not choosing an electric vehicle. Long-term costs are a big factor – 37% say that lower ongoing operating costs would encourage them to consider going electric for their next vehicle.
Woodward added: “Two significant trends could move us closer to the tipping point: battery cost reduction and government regulation. The trend towards mandating electrified powertrains, not merely demanding increased fuel efficiency or better carbon footprints, lays out a ‘must-do’ path for car manufactures. As automakers simultaneously begin to partner on building out electric charging infrastructure and developing other value-added services that increase the convenience factor for consumers, electric vehicles could become a desirable alternative.”

It’s not all about technology – customer experience matters

The survey found that 71% of consumers who bought their car via a dealer rate customer experience as an important factor in choosing where to buy a vehicle. The importance of relationships in dealer purchases are further highlighted by the fact that 60% of consumers visited the dealer where they made their purchase more than once.

During the buying process two-thirds (65 per cent) of consumers still find printed brochures and spec sheets very useful in gathering information at the dealership. Other important experiences during the vehicle buying process are test driving (43 per cent) and a quick/efficient buying process (38 per cent).

Other findings from the survey include:

  • 37% of consumers start researching their next vehicle three months before purchase.
  • During the vehicle buying process 75% of consumers think interacting with a real person was very important, followed by minimal paper work (67%).
  • Dealers surpass manufacturers in terms of quality of communication, with 73% of consumers saying dealer communication is good/very good.


Notes to editors

* Consumers who feel driverless cars may not be safe Belgium (54%), Germany (45%), Italy (30%) and France (37%)
** Consumer preference for a conventional gas and diesel vehicle Germany (66%), Belgium (64), France (62%) and Italy (49%)

About the Global Automotive Consumer Study

As part of a continuous assessment of consumer behaviour, 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.

About Deloitte
In this press release references to “Deloitte” are references to one or more of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (“DTTL”) a UK private company limited by guarantee, and its network of member firms, each of which is a legally separate and independent entity. Please see for a detailed description of the legal structure of DTTL and its member firms.

Deloitte LLP is a subsidiary of Deloitte NWE LLP, which is a member firm of DTTL, and is among the UK's leading professional services firms.

The information contained in this press release is correct at the time of going to press.

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