Sleeping and relaxing in the car is prime attraction for autonomous driving

13 September 2018 5 min. read

In a survey report on the potential peripheral services market offered by the advent of autonomous vehicles, management consulting alliance Cordence Worldwide has found that almost half of all respondents are looking forward to autonomous driving – thanks to being afforded the opportunity for more sleep and relaxation.

Carried out by Horváth & Partners, in association with global management consulting alliance Cordence Worldwide and the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO, the ‘Enabling the Value of Time’ report considered the implications for the interior design of autonomous vehicles by canvassing the preferences and opinions of 2,500 participants across Germany, France, the US, China and Japan. 

Extra pillows would seem the first priority. Contrary to the often-cited boon for workaday productivity that autonomous vehicles will bring – pegged at a potential worth up to $1.3 trillion per year to the US economy alone according to one estimate by KPMG, the Cordence survey found that sleeping and relaxing was the primary attraction for passengers of autonomous driving, with nearly half of all respondents citing the factor, followed by other indulgences such as entertainment (~40%) and eating and drinking (~38%). 

Working and being productive did however shade the opportunity to partake in beauty, wellness or fitness routines. And when considered by journey type, such as commuting and short and long business journeys, working and being productive became the number one priority, with the respondents presumably anticipating that the autonomous company vehicles of the future will also be fitted with cameras and biometric sensors beaming data back to the bosses at HQ.

What do consumers preferrably do in an autonomous vehicle?

Unsurprisingly, in terms of the predominant consumer preference for some extra shut-eye, when it came to the interior design features desired in autonomous vehicles across all usage types, nearly half of the respondents pointed to ‘a comfortable lying position’. A comfortable seating position for working or relaxing did however lead the table, followed by a desire for a quiet journey, with ‘a cooling function’ also being a popular future feature despite Chrysler having invented car air-conditioning some 65 years ago.

Sleeping behind the wheel

When ‘sleep and relaxation’ was considered alone, a ‘pleasant atmosphere’, a ‘sleep and relaxation assistant’ and a ‘full-body massage’ also featured on the list. Yet, although respondents were ready to envision pampered, restful journeys with their feet up, very few were prepared to fork out for the privilege. With respect to a comfortable lying position, just 16% of the survey participants stated a willingness to pay more than €300 for the opportunity as an equipment option. Over 63% meanwhile thought that €50 seemed a fair price for the add-on – demonstrating that, while it may not be cars, humans will at least continue to drive a hard bargain.

Suitability of usage types depending on the number of passengers

Those surveyed were however enthusiastic about paid autonomous ‘themed cab’ journeys, with vehicles optimised for particular usage types. Again, ‘peace and quiet’ scored highly, attracting over 60% of the respondents, although not feeling obliged to make small-talk with a cab-driver would be an automatic benefit of robo-taxis. Conversely, a sight-seeing themed taxi cab which provides information on one’s surroundings was the second most popular option, albeit with the survey’s older demographic. Other themed options such as restaurant, film and wellness were regarded well ahead of pet, party and gaming – reinforcing the preference for relaxation. 

Altogether, while the responses were fairly consistent across the surveyed nations, participants from Germany were the least keen as to almost every usage type bar entertainment (the Chinese meanwhile were streets ahead in their enthusiasm for the various possibilities afforded by autonomous travel). For Germany, the home nation of Stuttgart-headquartered Horváth & Partners, the consulting firm contends that the reluctance of local respondents stems from a fear of the safety risk of autonomous vehicles – suggesting that it would be best then for German nationals to just close their eyes and sleep through the ride.

Related: Accenture and Faurecia Group partner to tap into connected car market.