Together with Alphabet Fleet Management (Switzerland), we at the SBB Lab at the University of St. Gallen have carried out a study on customer benefits and acceptance of automated vehicles in Switzerland. In contrast to the emerging economies of China, Turkey or Brazil, where more people are interested in automated driving, the study shows that people in Switzerland are more skeptical about it. More than half of the respondents are not interested in using a fully automatic vehicle.
The study with 2000 online respondents gives a differentiated picture of the acceptance of autonomous driving in Switzerland. Systems for driving assistance such as parking and traffic jam assistants or the adaptive cruise control are already valued today. However, it needs to be said that the higher the degree of automation, the higher the rate of rejection. The less the driver can intervene in the driving, the greater his/ her skepticism about this technology. Especially for people who have not had any experience with today’s assistance systems, the idea to give up the control over the vehicle and to fully trust the technology is rather disturbing.
Yet, positive aspects are also recognized. Advantages of automated driving include, according to the respondents, e.g. lower fuel consumption, the gain in usable time, a better and safer traffic flow as well as mobility at an elder age. However, various uncertainties and obstacles contrast these advantages: respondents put a strong voice on issues such as cyber security, concerns about liability issues as well as data protection. They fear a lack of control and the fact that they have to give up driving fun. Many respondents also express concerns about the high-expected cost of automated driving.
Nevertheless, respondents are positive about a number of possible outcomes associated with automated driving. They especially like the potential new freedoms. For instance, one can turn to other occupations while riding such a vehicle, and for example, work, read, chat, etc. However, many claim that they would not make use of such freedoms and continue actively watching the traffic during the journey.
The majority of respondents argued for the possibility of using an autonomous vehicle whenever needed (e.g. by renting, sharing, or by using an offer around “mobility as a service”), but not buying and possessing one anymore. The fact that many would not buy their own vehicle could possibly be due to the fact that the personal relationship between the driver and the fully automatic vehicle decreases because he no longer drives the vehicle himself or herself.
Car manufacturers and mobility service providers need to be aware that the introduction of autonomous driving still requires a lot of educational work. Most people still cannot really imagine what autonomous driving will be like. The technology for autonomous driving may be almost ready, but people are not. They must be able to experience the new technologies and get used to them in order to give them the necessary confidence.
This is maybe why more than a quarter of all respondents would at least like to try such a vehicle…