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Yikes! Half of those buying cars would buy a fully autonomous vehicle

Park News Editor Astrid has a screaming headline that should give the industry pause. A survey shows that 53% of buyers would buy a fully autonomous vehicle. There is one minor problem, of course. There is no such thing today, tomorrow, or even in the next decade, as a “fully autonomous vehicle.”

For those with short memories, I will review the bidding. A fully autonomous vehicle (fav) is one that can drive itself, in any weather, any road conditions, and on any street or highway at any speed. I call this the George Jetson vehicle.

However, headline aside, if you drill down into the referenced article you find some interesting facts.  70% of those surveyed like driving their own vehicle. I feel like saying “I rest my case.” IF nearly three quarters of drivers like driving, then where is the motivation to actually buy an fav, assuming one will be available to purchase.

You might also note from the article, nearly the same percentage say they don’t really trust a fav and wouldn’t feel safe in one. Gee, I guess if people base their experience on the internet, their smart phone, and scanners at the supermarket, they understand that computers can go wrong, and you really don’t want that to happen at 75 miles an hour.

Granted that even with the error factor being much less than a human error factor, one still has to get their mind around putting their safety in the hands of a machine.

I might also note that most people said that they would prefer to buy a Tesla, as a fav, buy a factor of five to 1 over the legacy car companies. I wonder if this has anything to do with Elon Musk’s self aggrandizement, and not with the fact that Tesla hasn’t produced anything close to an fav.

I had lunch the other day with a VP at a major technology company in silicon valley. He is in charge of their connected car/autonomous vehicle project. Since we were sitting in ground zero for high tech and most of the cars in the parking lot were electric and a large number were Teslas, I posited that perhaps he and like companies in the area were looking out their windows when they made decisions on just how popular such vehciles were.  There is a whole lot of country out there, from the Sierras to the Appalachians,  I told him, where people aren’t really sure about such technology.

He responded to me in a way that made me feel like an errant child being corrected by a parent. “Now John, its coming, the technology is almost there, it can’t be stopped.” Chasened, I thought about writing a letter to President Clinton and telling her how much I was looking forward to the vehicular automation that was coming. No wait…

To summarize — nearly three quarters of drivers say they like driving themselves, 70 percent say they won’t feel safe in a fav, 50 percent of those surveyed say they won’t buy one, and of course the killer — they don’t exist.

It seems to me that we should be talking about connected vehicles and how they will affect our business, and not worrying about fully autonomous vehicles.  Just Sayin…

JVH

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