J.D. Power, in partnership with the MIT Advanced Vehicle Technology (AVT) Consortium, released the 2023 U.S. Mobility Confidence Index (MCI) Study which revealed a declining consumer trust in fully automated, self-driving vehicles. The MCI score, indicating readiness and comfort with automated vehicles, dropped by 2 points to 37 out of 100. This decline marks a consecutive drop from the previous year, amounting to a 5-point decline since 2021. Factors affecting this sentiment include media reports of robotaxi and testing failures and a general lack of knowledge about AV technology.
Why It Matters
Consumer confidence is essential for the broad adoption of new technology. As automated vehicles become more mainstream, consumer perception and trust in the technology will influence its success in the marketplace. Notably, consumers who have had firsthand experiences with robotaxis in cities like Phoenix or San Francisco showed a much higher MCI score of 67, pointing towards the importance of experience in fostering trust.
- Consumer Concerns: Main worries include unclear distinctions between automation levels, ineffective communication regarding control transfers, and interchangeable naming conventions for varying automation levels.
- Hacking & Privacy: A significant 78% of consumers are concerned about hacking prevention. Furthermore, there is a strong discomfort in sharing personal data, with concerns about how the data is used, stored, and its security.
- Behavioral Shifts in AVs: Owners recognize the benefits of vehicle automation, citing reduced risky behaviors like texting while driving. There’s also an inclination towards previously prohibited activities such as sleeping during transit.
- Misunderstandings Persist: 22% of consumers incorrectly believe that vehicles like Tesla’s “Autopilot” are fully automated.
While consumer confidence in automated vehicles is currently waning, the importance of firsthand experience cannot be understated. As noted by Lisa Boor from J.D. Power, building consumer trust through positive firsthand experiences is vital for the long-term acceptance of automated vehicles. Industry stakeholders have a crucial role in guiding consumer perception by providing balanced information and addressing concerns proactively.