23
Aug

An Autonomous Future: How the Role of the Consumer Will Impact AV Development

An Autonomous Future: How the Role of the Consumer Will Impact AV Development

For automobile manufacturers, a bold new future has arrived. Technology that adds autonomous features to the driving experience are now available on vehicles by all major manufacturers – inching us ever closer to the day where the driver is a passive, rather than active, participant in the driving experience. To take a closer look at what’s to come, automotive research experts from Market Strategies-Morpace will share their insights in an occasional blog series titled “An Autonomous Future.” In this blog, Chris Leiman, Senior Vice President of Automotive at Market Strategies-Morpace, talks about how consumers are influencing the adoption of these autonomous features.

By: Chris Leiman, Senior Vice President, Automotive

 

When most consumers envision an autonomous vehicle (AV), they think of Tesla Autopilot or a Waymo self-driving car powered by Google. They often do not realize that their brand-new car, truck, or SUV already includes added safety features that already make the automobile more autonomous in nature.

Take the Toyota Highlander, for example. This popular sport utility vehicle is equipped with helpful lane departure warnings, along with a feature that pulls drivers back into their current lane with the power of radar. As soon as the driver begins to traverse against lines on the road, the vehicle ensures he or she tracks back safely.

While these features serve as a subtle introduction to the benefits of AV technology, it’s hard for consumers to escape news of incidents involving self-driving vehicles. From grisly reports of accidents with General Motors’ AVs last fall, to the frightening media headlines warning of robotic systems that decide who dies in a crash, AV developers must constantly walk a thin tightrope.

While pushing the technology forward will allow more people and businesses to benefit from it, factors like societal fears and negative media coverage will also continue to shape the outcome and pace of the industry.

As an automotive researcher at Market StrategiesMorpace, my role is centered on the continuous quest to understand consumers and the decisions they make. It’s one of the primary reasons why I have the opportunity to attend the Autonomous Vehicle Conference, an informative and annual event including speakers from all parts of the AV ecosystem.

Through my work at the company and my insights from this conference, I’ve learned much about the potential impact – and role – the consumer will play in the future of self-driving cars. Here are a few of the main and immediate factors influencing the automotive vehicle industry:


Top Consumer Factors Influencing Autonomous Vehicle Development


Media Coverage of the AV Market

Media Coverage of the AV Market Autonomous vehicle technology bears a variety of safety and mobility benefits, including quick transport and automatic driver assistance features. However, consumer acceptance is still a significant barrier to overcome. This is primarily influenced by the media, which focuses on AV accidents and death without detailing the daily triumphs in the industry.

News programming giants have a saying: “If it bleeds, it leads.” While reporting on a pedestrian being killed by a self-driving car, they leave out comparative data, such as the fact that more than 6,000 walkers and bikers were killed by human drivers in 2017. As fatalities rise, autonomous safety features could help reduce these rates.

This is a primary example of how the AV industry must do a better job managing its own narrative. A combined effort by all members of the AV ecosystem will likely be required to change the tone and provide perspective.


Driver/Rider Exposure to ADAS Features

Driver/Rider Exposure to ADAS Features with AVIn addition to better management of news coverage, exposure to Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) features is a critical stepping stone to further consumer acceptance. These include characteristics that are already commonplace in many newer vehicle models, including adaptive cruise control (ACC), adaptive light control, automatic parking, and blind spot monitors. The proliferation of these features, combined with proper messaging and education, will go a long way in developing consumer trust.

One strategy is to gradually expose passengers to the features. Consider the example given by a Lyft representative who spoke at the Autonomous Vehicle Conference. She explained how a self-driving BMW transporting 2018 Consumer Electronics Show attendees included a Lyft employee and a safety driver. Since these two human beings were also in the car, people felt safer. However, the vehicle still completely drove itself.

This speaks to a gradual adoption approach. Once consumers get more exposure to the technology, it will reduce and, presumably, eliminate their anxiety. By safely riding with Lyft employees through multiple rides, for example, the technology will become as familiar as riding in a taxi or regular ride sharing vehicle.

Early technology adopters such as Tesla Autopilot drivers, as well as those eager to try out self-driving cars, will help the industry to convince skeptics over time. Eventually, experts say, benefits like time and convenience will continue to develop within the technology, making them more apparent to the average consumer.


Consumer-Centered Business Models

Consumer-Centered Business Models with AVWe are already witnessing the emergence of various business models in the auto industry. How drivers and riders accept these models will also affect the future development and dispersal of the technology. While companies like Tesla continue to push the self-owned AV, enterprises like Uber and Lyft currently operate with the help of freelance drivers, who are responsible for their own cars.

To become and remain profitable, they will need to develop a viable autonomous vehicle strategy, which could affect their freelance driving program. In addition, the new technology may or may not be acceptable to the consumer. It is possible that the widespread adoption of these brands in their current form will help pave the way for consumers’ autonomous mobility options in the future.

In addition to the ride sharing model, fleets are another option. From ambulances and school buses to programs comparable to Lyft and Uber, maintaining a group of company-owned cars would save money while providing consumers with a seamless experience.

Finally, startups and blue-chip businesses alike will need to focus on the quality of customer experience. From vehicle choices to entertainment options, the enjoyment of the autonomous ride will become nearly as important to the future of the industry as safety benefits.


Ushering Consumers into the AV Revolution

Ushering Consumers into the AV Revolution I’m proud to work for a company like Market Strategies-Morpace that helps AV enterprises use research to support their value proposition. In short, we’ve found that acclimating consumers to self-driving technology while changing the prevailing mindset around AV depends on the in-vehicle experience, how often and how safely they use those cars, and their willingness to pay for the features and services, whether it is their own car or via a pay-per-ride service. Marketing will play a key role for all brands. AV organizations will need to clearly communicate safety benefits and value to their customers to charge for services in the end.

In considering the consumer’s impact on acceptability, I’m reminded of a recent Car and Driver article by illustrious author Malcolm Gladwell. In the piece, he writes about the phenomenon of consumer control. In our society, our ability to choose our vehicle and drive it where we want is a part of the American fabric.

Whether it’s a man who won’t part with his 1968 Corvette or a young mother who doesn’t trust her children to an autonomous vehicle, giving up control of the driving experience will take some time. By staying diligent with market research, gaining better control of the media narrative, and clearly explaining the lifestyle and safety benefits of self-driving cars, the consumer will become more comfortable with – and enthusiastic about – what AVs can do for their lives.

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8
Sep

Is Autonomy Happening Too Fast?

Is autonomy happening too fast?

By: Greg Swando, Senior Research Director

While automotive manufacturers across the globe work feverishly to equip their current automotive line with the latest Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), and some even striving for full autonomy as early as 2020, how are consumers reacting to this new technology?

We’ve published a new study on consumer sentiments toward autonomous driving technologies and among the findings we learned that up to 50 percent of U.S. drivers that own vehicles equipped with driver assistance systems are turning them off.

Why? According to consumers it’s because some feel they are more confident in their own abilities to anticipate emergency situations.  Others find the warnings and audible alerts to be annoying. Several consumers don’t fully trust some of the ADAS technologies that are now being incorporated, while others may not even be aware whether or not they own the features.

At the same time, there are segments of consumers seeking out ADAS features and excitedly look forward to the day of a fully autonomous vehicle. These consumers are ready, and willing to put full their trust in the current technology—but is the technology ready to be trusted? Take a look at the recent Tesla Autopilot crash. We believe that one of the outcomes of our study is that consumers need to be educated on how these features work, why they’re needed, and how they can benefit from them.

While OEMs are planning to increase their investments and marketing spend toward fully autonomous vehicles within the next 10 years, consumers need to feel better prepared to drive these vehicles than they are today. Such consumer education is key to not only getting the public to trust the new features, but to also use them properly so that accidents, like the recent Tesla one, can be avoided.

Our study, A Consumer Centric Journey Toward Autonomy, highlights customer opinions and experiences—both good and bad—when it comes to autonomous features, and found various consumer personas that will shape future autonomous vehicle adoption. These findings will help OEMs and suppliers better understand the consumer and their relationship to new autonomous technology, preventing the consumer from feeling autonomy is being adopted too quickly.

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16
Jun

Top 3 Reasons Why Consumers are Rejecting Autonomy

Top 3 reasons why consumers are rejecting autonomy

By: Greg Swando, Senior Research Director

Autonomy.

This one word is the beginning of the current automobile industry’s disruption, as OEMs across the world race to incorporate various levels of autonomy and services into their vehicles.  New features such as Forward Collision Warning, Lane Keeping Assistance, and Emergency Braking, among others, have been emerging on the market and becoming more commonplace across vehicle portfolios and advertising campaigns.

But what exactly do consumers think about these new Automated Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS)?

While today’s consumers will see more advances in vehicle technology over the next five years than in the past 50, their rate of technology adoption may be slower to respond, as found by the report “A Consumer-Centric Journey Towards Autonomy”. This report was developed by our automotive team in partnership with SBD and Gamivation, in order to understand the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead in the journey toward next generation autonomous vehicles.

Our report revealed that there are 3 main reasons consumers are not only nervous about the new ADAS features, but may also be rejecting them entirely:

  1. Today’s driver assistance systems are being underutilized and/or misunderstood
  2. A significant number of current ADAS owners find the technology distracting and even irritating
  3. Many consumers reject needing any assistance–and are against giving up control of their vehicle

These and other surprising insights were revealed through the study, including how consumers are viewing the implementation and use of current ADAS features in vehicles. The types of consumers most open and receptive to these features, and those who are more likely to be suspicious or frightened by the new technology, are also revealed in the report, along with why consumers are reacting in these ways.

Our Automotive team and partners will help you learn how your competitors are implementing autonomous features and compare and contrast consumer viewpoints among each of these systems. After determining these points, our team can map out best-practice guidelines to differentiate your features as part of your overall brand, and help to make the consumers’ transition to autonomous features a smoother ride.

To find out more about “A Consumer Centric Journey Towards Autonomy” click here.

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