Americans Skeptical of Self-Driving Cars in New Global Study

"What the Future" new IPSOS global study explores Mobility

Are you the 1 in 4 Americans? Today, there is widespread interest in autonomous vehicles, but the U.S. — one of the largest auto markets in the world — expresses higher levels of resistance than most nations. Today, marketing research firm IPSOS has released a study with some interesting results about Americans attitudes towards autonomous vehicles.

Nearly one in four Americans “would never use” an autonomous vehicle. This is just one key finding from a report about the future of mobility released by Ipsos, a leading global market research firm. Ipsos surveyed more than 21,000 adults across 28 countries about acceptance of AVs, which autonomous features are most in demand, potential ownership models and regulation options.

The study was conducted as part of its What the Future series, which couples survey data and interviews with experts in the field to see what “big questions” companies should be asking themselves about the future of their industries. This issue of What the Future focuses on mobility, and if people are ready for the coming technology. Despite American tech and automotive companies leading the way in AV development, Americans are among the most reluctant to use it. Those in China, in contrast, are twice as likely to say they “can’t wait” to use AVs than Americans or Canadians.
  • More would prefer to continue owning their own vehicle (42%) than other proposed usage models including hiring one on a per-use basis (22%) or leasing one for a monthly subscription fee (14%)
  • Democrats (59%) were more likely than Republicans (46%) to say they had a favorable view of self-driving cars
  • Many Americans are unsure where regulation should come from, but would prefer manufacturers and tech companies (36%) to self-regulate over government regulation (24%)
  • Cost will be a factor: 24% said they would switch to a self-driving car if it cost the same as their current car, but 45% would switch if it cost much less
  • Many Americans (30%) would take more road trips in self-driving cars, including longer trips and new destinations
  • Globally, a majority of those surveyed say that AVs will be easier, more comfortable safer, more relaxing, more economical, more enjoyable, and friendlier to the environment. Fewer think AVs will be faster
  • Americans are more skeptical of touted benefits including improved safety, comfort and ease-of-use
  • Autonomous parking is the feature respondents are most ready to use, with 58% saying they would utilize autonomous functionality “always or frequently.” Many (47%) would use it for commuting and in stop-and-go traffic, and 52% would use it for long-distance drives
  • Younger Americans (under 35) have more favorable views of self-driving cars and their benefits
Perhaps the reluctance of Americans to embrace this emerging technology has to do with its strong identity as a car-culture. Nearly six in 10 people consider themselves “car people,” and 81% feel that the car they drive reflects their personality, a least to some degree. Digging deeper into the data, Ipsos found hints of a coming car-culture clash as noticeable divides about acceptance of autonomous vehicles are seen along political lines.

    Other results from the report (available for download at
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    harry said…
    I’m not an American still, I’m against the idea of autonomous vehicles. It sometimes scares me how the world is advancing so rapidly. Technology is good as long as it’s coming in handy like which is an online website and provides assignment assistance or like online shopping, etc. But this idea is going over the top now.
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    Daniel Lisa said…
    Technology is developing with time, especially with artificial intelligence, but it still has bugs in autonomous vehicles. Tesla is working and has designed self-driving vehicles but has software errors. In a viral video of a Chinese woman, Tesla's self-driving car was out of control and nearly crashed. We need some more development and always have an option of human involvement in the worst case.
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