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American Interest In AVs Lagging

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June 4, 2021—Will American consumers embrace self-driving cars? A new study found they might, but it’s likely going to take much longer than other countries. 

Ipsos, a leading market research firm, recently released the results of the Ipsos Mobility Navigator Global Study and found that interest in autonomous vehicles is significantly lower amongst U.S. vehicle owners. Thirty-one percent of American consumers said they were interested in AVs, while 78 percent of Chinese vehicle owners were interested. In Brazil, 61 percent were interested. Germany, like the U.S., lagged behind at 34 percent. 

“We’ve been monitoring this and reviewing this for the last five years,” said John Kiser,

senior vice president of Ipsos’ U.S., Automotive & Mobility division. “We see the emerging countries embracing these new technologies and techniques much more than established countries.”

What Kiser has concluded through the study and other research, is that interest in AVs is tied pretty closely to the prevalence of advanced driver-assistance system (ADAS) features, which provide a semi-autonomous driving experience. 

Just 19 percent of U.S. drivers have experience driving semi-autonomous vehicles, while 40 percent of Chinese drivers and 39 percent of Brazilian drivers have. 

The logic to the correlation is simple, Kiser said. If drivers are using ADAS features such as lane assist and blind spot protection, they are already becoming comfortable driving a semi-autonomous vehicle. That makes the shift to a fully autonomous vehicle less daunting. 

And the numbers bear it out. The study found interest in AVs rose to 65 percent from U.S. vehicle owners who had experienced a semi-autonomous vehicle. 

“If they’ve ridden or driven in the vehicle, they’re more apt to be interested in it,” Kiser said. 

China has been on the forefront of AVs, Kiser said, investing in infrastructure and support for new technologies, whether that for ADAS, EVs or AVs.

That is the path forward, Kiser asserted. If the U.S. wants to be on the forefront of AV implementation, it will start with developing infrastructure and support for ADAS services and EVs. Having the latest features and functionality will naturally lead to an increase in consumer interest. 

And some of that burden falls on the auto manufacturers, Kiser said. Showcasing the benefits of ADAS services, as it relates to safety of driving and reduction of distracted driving, should be a main selling point. 

“That’s my assertion and it’s not just about a single ADAS feature. It’s multiple ADAS features working together to create a semi-autonomous experience and the hook is showcasing how that is improving the safety of driving.”

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