- Deloitte’s 2019 study found 50% of consumers in the US believed driverless cars would never be safe.
- Consumer confidence has plateaued to a similar degree in China, Japan, South Korea, India and Germany.
- Media coverage of incidents like the Uber self-driving vehicle that killed a pedestrian in 2018 is spurring scepticism.
By Ben Hurley
The imminent commercial release of driverless cars has been much hyped in recent years, sparking predictions of radical changes to cities and the disruption of industries from insurance to parking-lot operators. But it seems just as the technology is becoming viable, the public is getting spooked.
Consumer trust in autonomous vehicles is stalling, despite billions of dollars being invested into the sector, according to Deloitte’s 2019 Global Automotive Consumer Study, which was based on a survey of more than 25,000 consumers in 20 countries.
Deloitte’s annual report found that media coverage of accidents involving autonomous vehicles had made consumers more cautious of the technology.
“Deloitte’s annual report found that media coverage of accidents involving autonomous vehicles had made consumers more cautious of the technology.”
Half the respondents in the US did not believe driverless cars would ever be safe. Last year’s report had a similar response from 47% of consumers, but this was a huge lift in trust from the 2017 report, where 74% of US consumers had safety concerns.
Consumer confidence has plateaued to a similar degree in China, Japan, South Korea, India and Germany. Respondents attributed their caution to reports of accidents involving autonomous vehicles.
In March this year, prosecutors announced that Uber was not criminally liable after one of its self-driving cars struck and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona, in March 2018. However, the car’s back-up driver, Rafaela Vasquez, could face charges of vehicular manslaughter.
Japan was the only country where a majority of consumers (68%) would trust traditional car manufacturers to bring fully autonomous cars to market. Consumers in most countries wanted “significant oversight” from government regulators.
New Zealand’s trial of driverless cars began at Christchurch Airport in 2017 and will be expanded this year.