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Consumers are more excited about driving assistance features than self-driving cars, according to new CarGurus research

Posted by Meg Bernazzani on June 24, 2021

We last surveyed consumers on their attitudes toward autonomous vehicles (AVs) in 2019. This year, we checked in to see if their excitement had grown. The short answer? No. While most have gotten more comfortable with the idea of self-driving cars, overall excitement for them has remained relatively flat. AVs are a huge leap in technology, according to shoppers, but the majority aren’t convinced the pros outweigh the cons, especially with regard to safety.

Here, we break down three key findings from our latest Self-Driving Vehicle Sentiment Survey conducted in April and what they mean for dealers.

Excitement for AVs has stalled

Just as tech advances have stalled, so has consumers’ excitement for AVs. Only one-third of people are excited about the development of self-driving cars—flat from 32% in 2019. And while more people are comfortable with the idea of self-driving cars, most (53%) would still prefer to be behind the wheel. Consumers are least comfortable with the idea of sharing the roads with self-driving delivery trucks or fleets and putting their loved ones in a self-driving car.

Shoppers remain more interested in driving assistance features (ADAS)

While one-third of consumers expect to own a self-driving vehicle in the next 10 years, nearly half (48%) say it won’t be before then. Primarily, that’s because they’re hesitant to rely on them for safety. Instead, consumers are more interested in Level 1-3 AV tech with ADAS features like adaptive cruise control (37%), automatic parking (42%), or emergency braking (42%). More than two-thirds agree that driving assistance features make travel by car safer. These technologies are widely regarded as safe and interest remains strong.

Consumers need clear benefits for AV adoption to happen

Though most consumers are hesitant about the safety of AVs right now, they do see the possibilities that self-driving cars can unlock. In particular, shoppers are most excited about the thought of the car driving them home safely when they’re unable to, parking itself, and pick up online orders for them. For consumers, meaningful benefits are what will move the needle for general AV adoption once they’re available.

Tesla is the most trusted and considered for AV

As with electric vehicle development, consumers trust Tesla most to manufacture AVs, however overpromising on self-driving capability and high-profile crashes were two of the top three reasons not to trust an AV brand. Still, more than half of respondents (51%) feel it’s too soon to trust any company to develop the tech.

What it all means for dealers

The main takeaway for dealers: AVs aren’t imminent so don’t panic. With more than three-quarters (78%) of consumers uncomfortable with the idea of putting a loved one in an AV and more than half (51%) uncomfortable relying on them for safety, it’s clear that AVs won’t be mainstream anytime soon. Instead, focus on gaining a deep understanding of current ADAS technology and equip your sales team to speak knowledgeably with consumers about these features. More information will ultimately translate to more satisfied customers and safer drivers on the road.

Topics: autonomous vehicles, AVs, CarGurus data, self-driving cars