‘Most striking results’ of survey show many wary of new technologies


Slow down there, pardner …

Despite all the recent attention garnered by electric and self-driving vehicles, many Americans are not ready to swear off either gasoline power or steering wheels.

Surprisingly, perhaps, that includes the millennial generation often viewed as a prime market.

Are we ready to switch to electric cars?
Are we ready to switch to electric cars?

The “most striking results” of a survey of 158,000 visitors in March and April to the website driving-tests.org (DTO) were that 69.4 percent of respondents said they would not consider purchasing an electric vehicle over a comparably priced gas-powered vehicle, the group reported.

Only three in 10 survey respondents said they would consider purchasing an electric vehicle.


What consumers really think about electric cars

A high proportion of the survey-takers, 75 percent, were millennials (ages 13-35) because the website is geared to aspiring drivers, but results didn’t vary much among the six age groups surveyed. Even youngsters ages 6-12 indicated they would not consider an electric vehicle.

Some of the negative feelings about electric vehicles transferred to self-driving cars as well.

“There were strong opinions in both directions,” driving-tests.org reported, but, “a plurality of respondents stated that they would be extremely concerned.”

Other surveys on self-driving cars

The driving-tests.org results are consistent with a J.D. Power study that said “a growing percentage of people say they don’t trust self-driving car technology,” reported The Detroit News. “Consumers don’t seem willing to give up the steering wheel and brake pedal to a computer.”

“The research company found consumers in general are concerned about the added complexity, as well as privacy issues and the possibility of a car being hacked,” Kristin Kolodge of J.D. Power told The News.

Results of the two studies differ from a recent Autotrader study that indicated 58 percent of millennials have a positive opinion of self-driving cars – up from 41 percent a year earlier.

“There seems to be a significant common attitude underlying the responses,” said driving-tests.org. “Evidently, most visitors to [the website] are not prepared, let alone eager, to embrace electric cars and self-driving cars … even millennials are wary of the new [technologies].”

More questions than answers?

But the driving-tests.org survey appeared to raise more questions than it answered.

“Would users of DTO feel more comfortable driving a hybrid electric vehicle like the Chevrolet Volt, which alleviates ‘range anxiety’ through its backup internal-combustion engine? Or are there psychological or sociological barriers to electric vehicle?” driving-tests.org wondered in its survey report.

“Would users of DTO feel more comfortable adopting semi-autonomous technologies short of self-driving, such as adaptive cruise control and automatic collision avoidance? Or do they worry that all this new technology is unproven and risky? Or do they just resent the loss of autonomy and control of the vehicle that all such electronic support of the driver entails?”

The website said it may conduct follow-up surveys to get answers to some of these questions – and to determine whether the concerns of aspiring drivers are similar to those of experienced drivers.

And whether automakers may need to slow down.

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