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April 22, 2020

Consumers Losing Confidence in Self-Driving, EV Tech

With almost every carmaker saying that their future business relies on CASE or Connected Autonomous Shared and Electric, a new survey just released by J.D. Power says carmakers may want to dial back on those mobility dreams. Why? Buyers may not want them anymore.

The 2020 Q1 J.D. Power Mobility Confidence Index Study points out that for the first time, consumer confidence on self-driving and battery-electric vehicles have dropped.

The quarterly study is the pulse of market readiness and acceptance for self-driving and battery-electric vehicles, as seen through the eyes of consumers and industry experts. The 2020 Q1 study includes insights from the United States and Canada where more than 8,000 consumers and industry experts gave their opinions about self-driving vehicles and battery electric vehicles.

“Frankly, we’re concerned for automakers,” said Kristin Kolodge, executive director of driver interaction & human machine interface research at J.D. Power. “They’re pushing forward with technology that consumers seem to have little interest in. Nor are they making the strides needed to change people’s minds. Especially now, automakers need to reevaluate where they’re spending money. They are investing billions in these technologies but they need to also invest in educating consumers. Lack of knowledge is a huge roadblock for future adoption.”

When it comes to self-driving vehicles, J.D. Power finds that majority of respondents (67 percent in the U.S., 75 percent in Canada) don’t believe the technology or society is ready. With the slow rollout of technology from automakers, predictions for when self-driving vehicles have gone up to 18 years—five years later than the last Mobility Confidence Index Study. Respondents also fear in creating “a lazy society dependent on technology and with diminished driving skills.”

J.D. Power also says that the COVID-19 pandemic may steer people away from the notion of shared transportation and more towards private vehicle ownership once more to minimize physical contact. Having said that, driverless delivery vehicles may gain a higher level of acceptance.

When it comes to battery-electric vehicles, consumer confidence is still fairly low with respondents (70 percent in the U.S., and 67 percent in Canada) showing concern regarding long-term usage, cost of ownership, and overall environmental impact. Surprisingly, previous ownership of EVs don’t guarantee future purchases. Among respondents who’ve owned a battery electric vehicle, around 30 percent of them won’t buy again due to high maintenance costs, purchase price, limited range, and performance in extreme weather.

The J.D. Power survey also notes that the same three barriers to the acceptance of battery-electric vehicles—charging station availability, driving range, and purchase price—remain. These were the very same barriers in 1997. It shows that 23 years on, consumer perceptions haven’t budged. Even those who have owned a battery-electric vehicle previously have these items as their top 3 barriers.

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