New research suggests the UK’s small and medium-sized enterprises do not believe driverless cars will be a feature of our roads by 2021, with the transport and haulage sector particularly uncertain.
The latest quarterly Close Brothers Asset Finance Business Barometer took the views of 965 respondents and found only 31% of SMEs in the UK expect to see widespread use of driverless vehicles, falling to 21% in the transport sector.
“The government has ambitious plans to invest in the sector,” said Neil Davies, CEO,Close Brothers Asset Finance. “But what our research shows is that the jury is, in effect, still out, for most business owners.”
The prospect of driverless cars is currently seen as neither a threat nor an opportunity for most businesses, with 52% of respondents being neutral on the issue. Transport SMEs; however, are more likely to feel threatened than those in other sectors.
Only 9% of business owners expect their business to be impacted by driverless cars, while 69% don’t expect any change; the remaining 23% feel it’s too early to tell.
“Despite the lack of expected impact, 76% of firm owners see them as an inevitability – but only in the long-term,” said Davies. “Only 10% feel they will never be seen on the roads.”
Roughly a third (30%) of those surveyed are of the opinion that driverless cars will have a positive impact on productivity while 38% are of the opposite view; the remaining 32% are unsure.