7
Nov

An Autonomous Future – Electric Vehicle Driver Opinion on Autonomous Vehicles

Autonomous connected electric vehicles


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, Stephan Schroeder, Vice President of Automotive Business Development at Market Strategies-Morpace, shares insights about how electric and hybrid vehicle drivers view the advantages and disadvantages of autonomous vehicles.

By: Stephan Schroeder, Vice President of Business Development, Automotive

The prospect of autonomous driving and connected mobility has energized the automotive industry and spurred billions of dollars of investments in autonomy, connectivity, and electrification. While startups and blue-chip corporations alike are convinced about the potential of autonomous vehicles (AV), consumers are more incredulous.

As previously reported in our An Autonomous Future series (Consumer Awareness & Opinion and The Role of the Consumer), media coverage has and will play a critical role in creating driver and rider awareness for AVs, but it is also becoming clear that the transition to this new form of mobility will require a multifaceted approach and unprecedented levels of investment in order to earn their trust.

One group that appears to be further along in their favorable opinion towards autonomous driving are drivers of electric vehicles. In a recent Morpace MyDrivingPower* online survey conducted among over 100 electric vehicle drivers, 3 out of 4 respondents expressed a “very positive” or “somewhat positive” opinion about AVs, more than twice the rate reported by drivers of vehicles with traditional powertrains. Given that difference in favorable opinions and their unique vantage point as early adopters, we took a closer look at the pros and cons of autonomous driving from their perspective.

 

Electric Vehicle Drivers’ Worry Revolves Around AV Tech-Related Challenges

Maybe not surprisingly, the biggest concern has to do with the technology itself. Concerns range from the quality of programming and the risk of being hacked to the inability of drivers to “program” the cars correctly.

And herein lies maybe the biggest challenge for AVs. We all have, over decades, become used to the limits of technology and the fact that it is not fail safe. However, we have accepted this risk because either our lives don’t depend on it (i.e. cell phones, computers, etc.) or because we have experts standing by to jump in if necessary (i.e. pilots, doctors, etc.). When a simple system reboot does not suffice or experts are not physically available, we dial help lines and call upon customer support to aid in our problems.

However, when it comes to AVs: what would happen in the event of an emergency or failure? The thought of being stranded with your family by the roadside and having to navigate through a helpdesk menu or wait hours for a call back is not something that would be acceptable in an autonomous world. Overcoming the doubts about the reliability of the technology and providing a highly responsive, end-user support system will be the two biggest hurdles that mobility providers will have to overcome to gain broad acceptance among consumers.

The next largest challenge has to do with concerns regarding vehicle performance due to bad weather conditions. Additional performance-related comments had to do with poor road conditions or construction. Of course, there is also the question of performance in more demanding environments, such as off-roading, which interestingly enough leads to a related disadvantage mentioned in another category: the thought of having to give up driving and losing the joy of driving a car. Many drivers are not happy about the thought of losing their freedom to drive or the ability to drive themselves.

While less frequent, concerns about liability and data privacy are also weighing heavy on the minds of consumers. Both of these issues tie back to our experience with technology. Who will be responsible in the event of an accident? What damages will be covered and not covered? Who will be responsible for the condition of the vehicle, especially if it is being shared amongst multiple parties? Ironically, some respondents felt that there would actually be more accidents because they did not trust their fellow drivers to behave responsibly or manage the technology properly.

The fear of lack of data privacy points to another significant concern with AVs. Considering the amount of time we spend in our cars and the amount of interaction that will take place through text, voice, video, sensing, etc., AVs will take the question of data privacy to a whole new level. Morpace is planning to explore this and other issues related to the question of trust and autonomous mobility further in one of its upcoming studies.

 

Electric Vehicle Drivers’ Opinion of AV Advantages

When asked about the expected advantages of AVs, electric vehicle drivers have a wide range of expectations, from safety to cost and environmental issues.

Most notably, electric vehicle drivers expect fewer accidents due to a reduction in distractions or unsafe driving. Furthermore, they expect lower cost of insurance, which could be a function of less accidents but also a lower rate of car ownership.

While many also expect less traffic and lower emissions, the verdict for a majority of people is still out, which shows the uncertainty around certain benefits:

  • Will AV lead to less or more cars on the road?
  • Which powertrain technology will prevail?
  • What will be the mix of autonomous and non-autonomous vehicles?

While many people believe that there will be efficiencies due to the use of autonomous vehicles (i.e. faster commutes), it could be offset by higher traffic volumes or the expectation that “the slowest car will dictate speed on the road.”

Finally, electric vehicle drivers pointed out two more major advantages. First, they noted that AVs will provide options for people who either can’t drive due to age, health, income or legal reasons – or who simply don’t want to drive. Secondly, many consumers mentioned that they expect a reduction in stress and greater happiness, which will contribute to a better quality of life and increased productiveness. The luxury of permanently “being taxied by your own car,” as one responded put it, seems to be a very appealing benefit for many drivers.

As a result, when asked how likely they would consider riding in an AV, 72% of electric vehicle drivers said that they would be “very likely “or “somewhat likely” to do so.

 

Time Spent While Driving in AV

For those with the most positive opinion of AVs, what else do they think and feel? When asked what they would do during the drive, the majority of drivers said they would use it to socialize with others, inside or outside of the vehicle, or simply make good use of the time otherwise. That said, many of the comments also revealed the anxiety that electric vehicle drivers feel when it comes to technology. Their comments ranged from “nervously watch the traffic/road,” to “carefully monitor the technology” and “pay full attention to driving and be completely ready to take over controls.”  In other words, while many drivers dream of a more enjoyable and fun ride, they simply can’t imagine a vehicle performing 100% of their activities 100% of the time with 0% failure yet.

 

AV Price Points for Electric Vehicle Driver

So, given all of the pros and cons, how much more would electric vehicle drivers be willing to spend for a vehicle that has autonomous technology?

On average, electric vehicle drivers indicated that they would be willing to pay an additional $6,000, with answers ranging from $1000 at the low end to $10,000 at the upper end.

The bottom-line is that the automotive industry has the attention of electric vehicle drivers and they are willing to pay for the added value. That said, the expectations are high and there is a healthy level of skepticism about the ability of making the technology work. The promise of a better quality of life is a huge opportunity for everyone involved but it will most likely come in baby steps as we learn to feel our way around the new world of unlimited mobility for everyone.

For more information about our AV research or if you have questions, please contact me and visit morpace.com.

 

*MyDrivingPower is an Insight Community comprised of over 500 electric and hybrid vehicle owners across the U.S., which is managed by the automotive market research professionals at Morpace. Results are based on responses from BEV and PHEV vehicles owners only.

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10
Dec

Hospital Patients Have an Opinion About Patient Surveys

couple reviewing

By: Debra Fin, Vice President; Jennifer Brown, Research Director

Hospital patients who have had a recent inpatient stay have something to share about the patient satisfaction surveys they receive.

Change the methodology please!!!

How do we know?

Morpace conducts a monthly random survey of the American population 18 years and older exploring consumer preferences and trends across all 50 states in our Omnibus Survey. A minimum of 1,000 individuals from our online panel complete a variety of questions and share their demographics with us. From April to September 2015, we collected more than 6,000 responses and got an interesting viewpoint from the population who has had a recent hospital inpatient stay.

Survey Participation is High

12% of 701 people shared that they had been a hospital inpatient in the past six months. A whopping 69% (482 people) of those had been asked to conduct a patient satisfaction survey! More than half, 53%, completed a paper survey they had received through the mail.  This is not surprising since this has been the traditional way to solicit opinions from discharged patients for decades. Our data suggests that online surveying appears to be growing with more than 20% reporting completing a survey via computer, tablet, or mobile phone.

Online Surveys Are Preferred

Hospital patients are very clear in their preferences of how they would like to complete a survey. If given the choice on what method to use to give feedback to a hospital provider, more than 59% of the total sample would choose to complete a survey online with a computer, tablet, or mobile phone. A mail option garnered less than a third of the preference vote. Moreover, 14% would really rather not be surveyed!

HC Survey admin

Those respondents showing higher preference for completing an online survey are white females in higher income brackets with insurance through their employer or spouse. Hispanic and African American respondents indicated a stronger preference for mobile surveys. When we looked at the 65 plus population, they too indicated a preference for online survey completion versus mail (55% vs. 43%).

Back To The Future….

When we looked at combining response choices for administering surveys before discharge, we saw something very interesting.  Almost one quarter of respondents would prefer to complete a survey before discharge! The most popular choice was still a paper survey with a computer or tablet coming in second. It would be interesting to pilot administering patient surveys before discharge using a variety of methods.

Most of us fill out online surveys for other things we consume, why not healthcare services?  The times they are a’changing…

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2
Dec

The Email Conundrum for Health Plans

Concept image of modern communication

By: Debra Fin, Vice President; Jennifer Brown, Research Director

The Email Conundrum for Health Plans

If you think about how you last received information from your health plan, I am sure it came in a box, the mailbox.

However, when Morpace asked health plan members how they would prefer to receive health plan communications they were clear—Email 63% of the time!

Hmmmm…what gives??

Morpace conducts a monthly random survey of the American population 18 years and older, exploring consumer preferences and trends across all 50 states in our Omnibus Survey. A minimum of 1,000 individuals from our online panel complete a variety of questions and share their demographics with us. From April to September 2015, we collected more than 5,400 responses to questions about health plan information for members. We learned about their preferences for receiving both health and wellness and benefits and claims information and compared that to what we have learned from working with over 200 health plans.

Addresses are hard to get

Depending on the plan type, we consistently hear that health plan member postal addresses are constantly changing. We live in a mobile society. In 2014, more than 28 million people 16 and older changed residence in the United States. When Morpace conducts health plan surveys we must update health plan and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid data records for addresses and phone numbers using specialized vendors. We do this to maximize response rates by making every attempt to ensure we deliver our surveys and reach health plan members by phone.

Even after updating these data files, up to 11% of records are found to be incorrect after implementing the mail and phone protocols! Medicaid beneficiaries are a mobile population and both mailing addresses and phone numbers change frequently. Medicare beneficiaries age out of their own home into a family member’s home or into a skilled facility. Working adults change jobs, changes homes, move away.

How do you stay in touch?

You’ve got mail….

Email addresses are stable contact sources for most individuals existing independently of their owner’s physical location. I moved from Michigan to Tennessee and back again in a four year span, and had the same email address covering three postal addresses!

Email may be the perfect solution for many and health plan members agree. When our Omnibus Survey participants were asked how they would prefer to receive information about wellness and health services from their health plan 63% said email, and 45% said mail. When we differentiated the material type by information about benefits and claims, email remained the stronger preference versus postal mail (61% vs. 52%).

HC survey receive

Respondents in the Morpace Omnibus Survey who preferred email are typically enrolled in Commercial insurance, younger than 55 years old, have a higher household income, and live in the western United States. Those respondents with strongest preference for mail are 55 plus, African American females with incomes less than $50,000, and have government insurance.

Medicare beneficiaries prefer mail as their first choice for both types of materials, although for wellness materials there was not a significant difference for mail versus email receipt. According to the Pew Research Center studies, 61% of Americans over 65 are online. Therefore, we know seniors are using the web. However, the strongest preference for mail versus email was for benefits and claims materials. We suspect that the increased preference for postal mail with benefits and claims items is related to these being personalized communications on issues affecting their pocketbooks.

Yet, many seniors in our focus groups will tell us that they are inundated with direct mail that they throw out since it may not be addressing a need they have right then.

Websites scored at a consistent preference level of 27% for both health and wellness materials and claims and benefits communications. However, our anecdotal information from working with many plans is that members rarely use their health plan’s website. Moreover, we know from talking with health plan members, they often find plan websites tough to navigate. Many, who are digitally savvy, do go to plan websites and cannot find what they want, then go to the phone and call customer service. This can result in a plan representative getting a frustrated member on the line thus creating a service recovery challenge. Dissatisfied members are more likely to rate the plan lower in their overall satisfaction.

So why not email all plan communications?

Email addresses are hard to get. In addition, not all plan members are online. One health plan client let us know that their data system does not have a field to capture information, others cited low response rates when requesting emails, and yet another has talked about legal issues. Privacy concerns and spam emails are often cited as the reasons members choose not to provide their email address.

However, as mailing costs go up and known waste of direct mailed publications increases, the use of email and customer portals becomes an attractive alternative for both health plans and their members. As a result, arming your customer service representatives with training and the idea of collecting emails for future use becomes more important.

By targeting your communications to the channel preferred by members, you can more successfully engage them. Health plan members who can assess information quickly are more likely to have a better experience with the plan and higher plan satisfaction.

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