Industry needs “focus change” on driverless cars | Smart Highways Magazine: Industry News

Industry needs “focus change” on driverless cars

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A leading consultancy in intelligent transport systems is urging the automotive industry to change its focus on autonomous cars.

Jeffrey Hannah, who is a director at the respected SBD has told the TU-Automotive Annual Conference in Michigan that “If future levels of autonomy are to succeed, the automotive industry must start putting consumers at the heart of its strategy.  Today, decisions on autonomous cars focus around legislation, business models and technologies. Yet the biggest question of all has been overlooked. What do consumers need and value from autonomy?’’

After more than 1,000 hours of consumer surveys, driver focus groups, dealership interviews and vehicle testing, a unique new study from SBD, Morpace and Gamivationfinally offers what it calls “coherent answers to this fundamental question.”

It says it has four key findings:

Autonomy isn’t for everyone – a combination of personality, circumstances and experience contributes to the perfect autonomous car customer.  Yet with a more consumer-centric strategy, car manufacturers can still win the trust of drivers least receptive to autonomy.  This makes it critical for manufacturers and suppliers to understand what contributes to increased trust and interest.

Widespread misunderstanding around existing Automatic Driver Assistance Systems – Neither drivers nor dealerships understand the true constraints and capabilities of existing ADAS.  The industry must find new ways to educate consumers, such as working with driving schools and the media.

Many drivers are disabling existing ADAS – Of the 400 US drivers interviewed (who own a car equipped with ADAS), almost 50% said they regularly disable one or more features. To avoid the unnecessary cost associated with investing in systems that do not reflect what drivers need, vehicle manufacturers and suppliers should collect and monitor car data to understand how and why drivers are using existing systems.

A clear link between experience and trust – Drivers who do not use (or are not aware) of existing ADAS are significantly less likely to trust future levels of autonomy. This makes it particularly important that future products reflect what consumers need and value.  Marketing should also provide an accurate picture of what autonomous cars have to offer.


“The automotive industry is definitely at a crossroad” says co-author and SBD Director Andrew Hart.  “Manufacturers and suppliers now have the opportunity to develop appealing autonomous experiences that lead to lasting trust and brand loyalty.”


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