EU consumers interested but weary of autonomous vehicle technology

11 October 2017 5 min. read
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New technologies in the automotive industry are set to transform the sector and the lives of it consumers, as well as improve health outcomes for wider society. A new survey of European consumers shows that they are interested in fully autonomous vehicle technologies, although uncertainties around safety of the technology itself remain.

Vehicle automation stands to create considerable benefits across the transportation value chain. Fully autonomous vehicles see accidents reduced by up to 90%, while a more mobile fleet would reduce vehicle idleness, upping resource efficiency and reducing inner-city space demands. In addition to automation, electrification is set to significantly improve energy efficiency, whilst preventing various pollutants from being emitted in areas of high-population density.

The technologies for autonomous vehicles remains in its infancy, with various players, from tech giants such as Google and Apple, to more traditional OEM manufactures and truck manufacturers, vying to develop the technology. The UK is also actively supporting the development of autonomous vehicles in the country, with Arup leading the UK Autodrive consortium project in Milton Keynes and Coventry.

In a new report from Deloitte titled ‘Future Vehicles Technology European Comparison Report’, the professional services firm explores the interest of 22,000 consumers across 17 countries and their interest in autonomous vehicles, both in terms of key features as well as their sensitivity to costs. The research also considers wider trends in the market pertaining to electrification and mobility.

Consumer interest in fully autonomous vehicles - by generation

Autonomous vehicles

European consumers’ interest in fully autonomous vehicles differs somewhat per region, with the relative age of the respondent proving to be indicative of attitudes in most of the regions covered. In the UK, generation X and Y exhibit relatively high levels of interest, at 43% for generation X and 40% for generation Y, while 19% of the pre/boomers demonstrated interest. In France, meanwhile, pre/boomers are relatively more interested, at 24% of respondents, while in Italy 21% of the older generation is interested in the technology. Belgian consumers were the least keen on the technology overall, with only 17% of the older generation demonstrating interest, and a 21% and 26% share for generations X and Y respectively.

Price premium for autonomous cars

While consumers are relatively interested in the technology, few are willing to pay a premium for it. According to Deloitte, manufacturers will need to stump up the capital to develop, mass produce and market the technology which currently costs more per vehicle than consumers from each country would pay. UK respondents are the most willing to pay, at an average of €459, while French consumers are the most likely to eschew the additional costs, at €191.

Autonomous trust outstanding

The study found that consumers are not yet convinced that the technology is inherently safe for the road, as most consumers want to see the technology proven before they opt to use it. UK consumers are particularly keen for the technology to first be proven (65%), followed by Belgian and Italian respondents at 51% each. The firm notes that scepticism is partly the result of unfamiliarity due to the uncertainties around the developing technology.

In terms of the most trusted type of manufacturer to bring the technology to the market, French OEMs take the number one spot in the country (56%) followed by new autonomous companies (23%). OEMs are also the most trusted in the UK (53%). Italian respondents, meanwhile place the most relative confidence in new autonomous companies (29%) and tech companies (23%), while traditional players stand at 44%.

Consumers willing to pay more than 400 euro for technology type

New technologies

In terms of wider features being developed as part of the transformation of the automotive industry, different trends appear across the different European countries surveyed. When asked which technologies people would be willing to pay an additional €400 for, different responses were noted across the surveyed countries.

Consumers in Italy, for instance, are particularly keen on alternative powertrains (41%), followed by Germany (35%) and the UK (31%). Safety features also feature as key concerns among the three countries, at 28% of German consumers and 27% of Italian consumers.

Connectivity was of less interest across the countries surveyed, with 19% in the UK and Italy being the highest ranking. Cockpit/convenience was the lowest ranked by far at 13% in the UK.

Frequency of consumers using ride sharing


Finally, ride sharing, as a means of reducing vehicle down-time and costs is relatively unused in a variety of countries – with such use concentrated among urban users. The most dominant countries for such use are France, in which 11% of urban and 9% of non-urban population use it once per week. The UK came in second, with 22% of urban and 9% of non-urban people use a service at least once per week. Aside from urban users, generation Y are the most keen on sharing in the current climate. Belgium and Germany are still relatively undeveloped when it comes to ride sharing.