Do people actually want self-driving electric cars? New study says 'maybe not'
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With every day, there's seemingly one or two big developments in electric-car tech and autonomous tech. Just yesterday we wrote about the world's first production EV ute, while on the weekend we covered the topic in depth with our dedicated EV and hybrid special edition.
But it's hard to ignore that buyer uptake of EVs has been sluggish at best here. And now a fresh survey from JD Power has cast more doubt on whether buyers are convinced of this impending transition to electrified cars and self-driving cars.
The firm, known for its automotive surveys, has just revealed its inaugural Mobility Confidence Index Study — a study anchored in measuring consumer confidence in next-generation vehicles. The survey polled 5749 people about self-driving cars and 5270 people on electric vehicles.
JD Power's study found that the Mobility Confidence Index for self-driving cars was just 36 out of 100 — a number they classed as "low". Electric cars achieved a slightly better result, with a rating of 55.
Infrastructure, battery range, and price were listed as "critical challenges which must be addressed" with electric cars, with price unsurprisingly positioned as the highest priority concern. Self-driving concerns from respondents, on the other hand, mainly centred around tech failures and hacking.
“Out of the box, these scores are not encouraging,” said JD Power executive director Kristin Kolodge.
“As automakers head down the developmental road to self-driving vehicles and greater electrification, it’s important to know if consumers are on the same road — and headed in the same direction. That doesn’t seem to be the case right now.
“Manufacturers need to learn where consumers are in terms of comprehending and accepting new mobility technologies — and what needs to be done.”
It's worth noting that those who had experienced an EV prior to responding to the survey had a much more positive view on the emerging tech. According to JD Power, 32 per cent of respondents had experienced an EV, and out of them 75 per cent said that they would consider buying one.
The results make for an interesting counterpoint to the recent statistics issued by Kiwi classifieds website TradeMe earlier this week. The study quizzed over 1300 New Zealanders, and found that 74 per cent would consider buying an EV for their next car.
“With climate change top of mind for many people, a range of new models on the market, rising fuel costs and the government’s new plan to subsidise EVs, we think more Kiwis will make the switch in the near future," said TradeMe's Alan Clark.
While a local study may carry more weight than one conducted overseas, it's worth mentioning that only 0.02% of the cars on New Zealand's roads are fully electric. While respondents to TradeMe's study have said that they would consider buying an EV, actually committing to buy one is something very different.