The study comes as automakers, tech companies and suppliers invest heavily into self-driving technology. The results show there could be significant trepidation among consumers about autonomous tech, even as companies promote potential safety advantages self-driving vehicles could provide.
“In most cases, as technology concepts get closer to becoming reality, consumer curiosity and acceptance increase. With autonomous vehicles, we see a pattern where trust drives interest in the technology, and right now, the level of trust is declining,” said Kristin Kolodge, J.D. Power executive director of driver interaction and human machine interface, in a statement.
Kolodge pointed to Tesla consumers as an example of familiarity with semiautonomous technology helping to drive interest in self-driving vehicles. Tesla drivers, who have access to the company’s semiautonomous Autopilot feature, had nearly double the level of interest and trust in self-driving vehicles, she said.
“Tesla consumers arguably have more experience with automation than other manufacturers,” she said at the APA meeting.
Still, even as consumers’ trust in self-driving technology falls, interest in driving assistance and collision protection technologies remains high, according to the study. J.D. Power said six of the 10 technologies consumers show the most interest in -- including emergency braking, smart headlights and advanced windshield displays -- fall in those two categories.
“Automated driving is a new and complex concept for many consumers,” Kolodge said. “They’ll have to experience it firsthand to fully understand it. As features like adaptive cruise control, automatic braking and blind-spot warning systems become mainstream, car buyers will gain more confidence in taking their hands off the steering wheel and allowing their vehicles to step in to prevent human error.”
The results are based on responses from about 8,500 drivers who have bought or leased a vehicle in the past five years. J.D. Power conducted the study between January and February.
The study, in its third year, analyzes consumer pricing preferences, awareness and interest in technologies in several categories including entertainment, driving assistance, navigation and cybersecurity.
There are notable generational differences in the study’s findings, according to J.D. Power. Younger buyers are “far more comfortable” with technologies that take control of their vehicles’ operations, J.D. Power said. Data supporting that conclusion were not immediately available.
Emergency braking and steering, set to become standard on U.S. vehicles within five years, remain popular across age groups. J.D. Power said 31 percent of consumers said they would pay $700 for an “advanced” version of such a system, greater than those who would pay less for other technologies.
The most-desired feature for consumers, after being shown pricing, was an economy navigation system. J.D. Power said 53 percent of respondents would buy the feature at a price of $60.
Technologies that cost more, including lane-change assist and self-healing paint, were popular among consumers before being shown pricing. Desire falls off after being shown prices, the study shows.
The least-desired features, pre-price, included a second-row seat “executive lounge,” mobile system control and individual sound zones.
The study shows consumers are far more likely to say they would pay more for safety-related technologies than for entertainment and convenience-related technology.
An exception comes among those in Generation Z. About 40 percent of the youngest consumers said they would “definitely” like digital key technology, which would eliminate the need for a key fob. J.D. Power said 58 percent of drivers in this group would pay $250 for the digital keys, compared with just 28 percent across all generations.
The study comes after a similar study conducted by Autotrader, released in January. The Autotrader study found that consumers are willing to pay an extra $2,000 or more for technology they want in vehicles. In-demand technologies included blind-spot detection, forward collision warning and lane-departure warning, the study found.