Cisco today announced the results of its study into consumer’s thoughts about connected and driverless cars. While a large part of the study focused on the role of technology in the car shopping experience (unsurprisingly, nobody likes car dealerships), the study also looked into drivers’ attitudes about driverless cars. Surprisingly, 57% of all of the respondents said that they would trust driverless cars to drive them around, but there are some clear differences between different markets.
Acceptance for driverless cars seems to be especially strong in emerging markets. In Brazil, for example, 95% of respondents said they would trust a driverless car, in India 86% would do so and in China, 70% of drivers would be willing up to give control.
In the U.S., however only 60% said they would trust these cars, and 57% of Russians (who may have good reason to think that they need to have full manual control over their cars) said they would consider these automated vehicles. Germans – who still love their manual transmissions – are far more skeptical (37% would trust them). Japan, a country that seems relatively at ease with robots, comes in dead last with 28%.
All of these numbers, by the way, are lower when the researchers asked if drivers would let their kids ride in these vehicles. Still, this clearly shows that there is a market for driverless cars if they ever become available commercially.
With regard to trusting technology, the study also found that 74% of drivers would be fine with their car tracking their driving habits if they could save on insurance and maintenance cost. About 65% of them would also share their height, weight, driving habits and entertainment preferences with the car manufacturers in return for a more custom driving experience.
Bypassing Car Salesmen With Technology
When it comes to buying cars, most people would also be perfectly comfortable doing so without dealing with sales people directly. Half of the respondents in the study said they would prefer an interactive kiosk at the dealership when they have the option to each a live person (in case they really, really, have to talk to somebody). More than half (55%) said they would be happy to use virtual technology, including video chats, to go through the complete purchasing process. Again, consumers in emerging markets are generally more comfortable with this idea than car shoppers in the U.S. or Germany.
Interestingly, shoppers in developing markets like Brazil, India, Russia and China seem to be more comfortable with these technologies. U.S. shoppers usually end up somewhere in the middle when it comes to these stats and German and Japanese shoppers are the least willing to use virtual technologies to buy their cars.
Cisco’s researchers also used this study to stress that a connected car has to offer more than just a router in the vehicle. Cars themselves have been more or less commoditized, so the area where manufacturers (and startups) have a real chance to differentiate themselves is in services, be that helping drivers find parking spots or creating better (and more automated) service networks.