More than two-thirds (68%) of consumers say they have little to no knowledge about self-driving vehicle technology and well over half say they are unlikely to ever purchase or lease a self-driving vehicle. (Credit: Scharfsinn/Shutterstock) More than two-thirds (68%) of consumers say they have little to no knowledge about self-driving vehicle technology and well over half say they are unlikely to ever purchase or lease a self-driving vehicle. (Credit: Scharfsinn/Shutterstock)

While many auto manufacturers are preparing for a future where demand for self-driving and battery-electric vehicles is the norm, it’s unlikely to be anytime soon. According to the J.D. Power 2019 Q3 Mobility Confidence Index Study, many consumers still lack confidence in these technologies.

The quarterly study is the pulse of market readiness and acceptance for self-driving and battery-electric vehicles, as seen through the eyes of consumers and industry experts. The sentiment is segmented into three categories: low (0-40), neutral (41-60) and positive (61-100).

The latest study found that the mobility confidence index is 36 for self-driving vehicles and 55 for battery-electric vehicles — identical scores to the last quarter.

Key findings

Here’s what else J.D. Power’s study found:

  • More than two-thirds (68%) of consumers say they have little to no knowledge about self-driving vehicle technology and well over half say they are unlikely ever to purchase or lease a self-driving vehicle. Only half as many women express having a “great deal” or “fair amount” of knowledge on the subject compared with men and they’re also less likely than men to purchase or lease a self-driving vehicle.
  • Consumers are still more hopeful than worried about the overall benefit of technology in their lives, but 38% remain unexcited about any self-driving technology. Seventy-one percent are most worried about tech failures/errors.
  • Industry experts say that consumer affordability and trust remain the top challenges for battery-electric vehicle acceptance. They also recognize that the cost to produce electric vehicles and the development of a charging infrastructure are critical challenges that must be addressed.
  • Half of the respondents also believe the cost of charging compared with the cost of gas will be advantageous. However, 65% are concerned about the availability of charging stations. More than half (60%) of respondents are concerned about driving range, with 76% of those with no battery-electric vehicle experience expecting vehicles to have a driving range of 300 miles or more.

“It was a little surprising to find consumer sentiment about self-driving vehicles and electrification has stayed flat, but it shows that consumers are really steadfast in their opinions about new mobility technologies right now, regardless of how close they are to being available for purchase,” Kristin Kolodge, executive director, driver interaction & human machine interface research at J.D. Power, said in a statement. “This isn’t necessarily bad news for automakers; rather, it shows the areas where consumers need to be better-educated and gives manufacturers the chance to correct their course on the path to eventual production.”

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