The automotive industry is going through a significant incarnation. While this evolutionary shift has been taking shape for some time now, the majority of people haven’t been directly impacted or exposed to these new forms of technology.
Individuals that live in densely populated cities have already been indoctrinated into the hybrid and EV car culture, and widely acknowledge that electric vehicles are better for the environment. Throughout parts of the Southwest, seeing drivers with their Teslas set to autopilot is commonplace in 2020.
But even with hundreds of thousands of individuals comfortable with high tech cars taking to their highways, there are still millions of Americans that are not dazzled or very trusting of A.I. being their chauffeur.
Even though the automobile industry is on the precipice of finally enacting a total metamorphosis and changing the way our society understands transportation, the latest Global Automotive Consumer Study has some not-so-swell results that could have car manufacturers pumping the brakes on autonomous tech.
But what’s up with the backward momentum? Has technology failed to prove itself safe and reliable? Have electric cars not made a compelling enough argument to the masses? Are consumers willing to pay for these technologies?
Let’s review some of the findings from the Global Automotive Consumer Study and find out where consumers really stand on autonomous, self-driving technology and the rise of electric vehicles.
Disruptive Technology: EV & Autonomous Vehicles
For those of you not familiar with the term ‘disruptive technology’ allow us to explain. Disruptive technology refers to a new or emerging technology that aims to take the place of existing technology and render it obsolete.
A great example of disruptive technology is the rise of rideshare platforms like Uber and Lyft. They have almost, if not entirely, snuffed out taxi services in most cities across the United States. Taxis were often viewed as unreliable and pricey, so a solution was presented that worked. It’s that simple.
The 11th year of Deloitte’s Global Automotive Consumer Study asked 35,000 consumers across 20 countries how they felt about autonomous tech, electric vehicles, A.I. connected vehicles and the expansion of ridesharing.
Deloitte sets the tone for upcoming automotive trends and provides insight into how consumers view disruptive technologies. This information directly impacts how much manufacturers will choose to invest in future product rollouts and what technologies will be included in the final design.
No matter the industry, it would be naive to think that everyone welcomes innovation, and the change that inevitably follows. Consumers can be fickle. And depending on the demographics, new trends and technologies may actually frighten some folks. When you consider things like television and electricity once being disruptive technologies, it makes one wonder how anyone could object.
So why are consumers a tad reluctant to jump on the (EV) electric vehicle bandwagon or get behind the wheel of an (AV) autonomous vehicle? Let’s take a closer look at opinions and spending habits.
EV / Electric Vehicles
Hybrid and EV technology has been around for a while now. And even though demand for electric vehicles has increased on a global scale, America seems to be nearly split in half on whether they think EVs and hybrids are a hit.
Up from 29% in 2019, only 41% of consumers now say they would consider purchasing a hybrid or fully electric car. Another major concern of consumers is battery range and charging infrastructure. Again, while EV charging stations are all over the place in California, that may not be the case in other parts of the country. The numbers clearly show the great divide. California has about 23,000 EV charging stations compared to Montana’s 116.
EV tech is undoubtedly making strides each year. Green states like California and Washington are leading the charge in EV infrastructure expansion and encouraging other states to do the same. Hybrid vehicles have also become extremely affordable as demand and availability increased. The savings are a big perk for consumers who have grown weary of overpaying for fuel. Electric vehicles and hybrids still remain a much more comfortable purchase for car buyers over the alien-like emergence of autonomous technology.
Autonomous, Self-Driving Cars
When it comes to autonomous vehicles, driverless semis, and even self-driving taxis, safety continues to keep consumers on the sidelines. Nearly half of the people surveyed said that fully self-driving cars are unsafe and shouldn’t be allowed to operate on the roads.
That percentage goes up to 68% when consumers are asked about automating our nation’s big-rigs and tractor-trailer industry. Not only would that financially cripple a large portion of Americans whose profession is in the trucking industry, an estimated loss of 2-3 million jobs over four years, but trusting an A.I. to be solely responsible for driving a 40-ton truck at high speeds, makes some people extremely weak in the knees.
The other lynchpin that keeps AV technology from getting a secure foothold is the price. 34% of consumers said they are not willing to pay anything extra for autonomous tech or self-driving features. When you couple the added cost with an overall reluctance to hand over the keys to an A.I., it looks as if autonomous technology may be idling for the time being. Until more infrastructure is introduced to make it safer for self-driving cars to hit the road, we may not see a significant increase in their sales on a nationwide scale.
One thing is certain though, technology stops for no one. We can try to slow it, discourage it, hinder its pace with skewed legislation, but we are a society constantly trying to find easier ways to exist. Whether consumers embrace new car technologies or not, they will still find their way to the road. It just may be at a slower pace than originally believed.
Sustainability is growing in popularity and while there may be some pushback in favor of the ‘good old days’, eventually the shift will happen, giving rise to disruptive technology-driven trends. It is just a matter of when.
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