Traditional OEMs and new players spending billions of dollars to develop autonomous vehicles may be overestimating consumers’ willingness to pay a sizable premium for higher-level AV functionality over current technologies, according to a new multinational study.
AlixPartners’ Global Autonomous Vehicle Report, compiled by the global consulting firm, is based on a survey of more than 6,500 consumers across China, France, Germany, Italy, the U.K. and the U.S.
It finds consumers are willing to pay a premium of just 8% (China) to 24% (Germany) for “hands-off-the-wheel” autonomy over available technologies such as lane-keeping assistance and automatic braking. Americans surveyed said they’d be willing to pay just a 9% premium.
The survey results also indicate the traditional auto industry faces another big challenge when it comes to AVs: competition from ride-hailing.
Asked if they would consider switching from personal-vehicle ownership to using autonomous-vehicle ride-hailing services, or “robo-taxis,” if the monthly cost were from 40% cheaper to even 20% more expensive than vehicle ownership, 44% to 84% across the six countries said they would – led by consumers in China, the world’s largest auto market, at the 84%.
In the U.S., 44% said they would consider swapping their personal vehicle for ride-hailing under such circumstances.
“While AVs represent a whole new platform for mobility, companies venturing into this space – new entrants as well as the traditional auto industry – should be taking a clear-eyed look at their pathway to a viable business model, including perhaps partnering with others to reduce risk on their autonomous-vehicle programs,” says Mark Wakefield, global co-leader of the automotive and industrial practice at AlixPartners.
The AlixPartners survey also found that large percentages of consumers describing themselves as likely buyers of higher-level, personal-use AVs said they’ll wait to buy one after five or more years of widespread availability. Those results ranged from 51% in China to 81% in the U.K. Seventy-nine percent of Americans said they would wait five years or more.
Consumers in the survey also were generally less than confident about the safety of AVs. Though 58% of Chinese said they trusted higher-level AVs’ ability to navigate safely from one place to another, responses in the other five countries ranged from 36% down to just 18%. Twenty-seven percent of Americans surveyed expressed confidence.
The report also found a correlation between the countries with lower gross domestic product per capita and a higher willingness to consider switching from vehicle ownership to ride-hailing AVs, with China well ahead in that regard.
“Many of the survey responses – from the highest interest in robo-taxis to the highest confidence in AV safety – suggest that China could become the epicenter for ‘all things AV’ in the future,” Wakefield says. “Given China’s size alone, that puts all the more pressure on industry players everywhere to make smart, well-thought-through moves – and to make them soon, before it’s too late.”
AlixPartners’ Global Autonomous Vehicle Report includes the analysis of a survey that polled 6,746 consumers online from April 23-May 17, 2019, including 1,072 in China, 1,019 in France, 1,015 in Germany, 1,037 in Italy, 1,009 in the U.K., and 1,594 in the U.S. All those surveyed were 18 and older, reported holding driver’s licenses, represented all major regions and income levels in each country, and comprised 50.5% men and 49.5% women.