US Insights

Driverless Cars Aren't Science Fiction for Older Americans

Ross Tucker

Executive Editor Kantar US Insights

Brands 04.16.2018 / 12:00


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80% of Americans expect self-driving cars to become a reality.

The majority of Americans believe that autonomous cars will become a reality within their lifetimes. However, Kantar research reveals that older Americans, not the tech-savvy younger generations, are the ones who believe relinquishing driving duties to onboard computer systems will come sooner rather than later.

Kantar’s Lightspeed division surveyed more than 1,200 Americans in early April to get their views on a range of future technologies, including artificial intelligence, 3D printing and human cloning. When it comes to driverless cars, 80% of respondents said they expected them to become a reality “in my lifetime” or “in the near future.”

When we drilled down on the responses by age group, we found a significant difference in those who said they’d see self-driving cars “in my lifetime.” Half of American respondents over the age of 65 said they believed driverless cars would be a reality in their lifetimes compared with 47% of those between 35 and 65. Only 42% of respondents under 35 said driverless cars will be a reality in their lifetimes.



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Outpacing Consumers?

Auto manufacturers are already trying to capture consumers' attention by cramming their cars with the latest technological features. This has largely centered around Internet connectivity. Despite an ever-expanding array of dazzling capabilities on offer, our research indicates that consumers are far from fully utilizing the features – if they’re aware of them at all.

According to a study of the attitudes and purchase behaviors of more than 8,500 consumers across Europe, North America and China, 25% of car owners are not actively using their connected car’s features, and 11% don’t even know if their vehicle has them.

Car Purchase Considerations

“We are seeing car manufacturers competing for market share by differentiating their offer with ever-more sophisticated technologies and services,” said Paul Crispell, US Car Lead for Kantar TNS, in January. “But we’re not yet seeing this translate into embedded and habitual usage among car owners. We found a clear disconnect between what manufacturers are producing and what the car owners are looking for.”

Globally, premium brand owners are proving to be early adopters of connected features, with a higher proportion of premium owners willing to pay for connected features when compared with mainstream brand vehicle owners. For example, 52% of all car owners said they’d be willing to pay for navigation features. Among premium car owners that number rises to 72%.

It’s reasonable to expect that adoption of driverless vehicles could follow the same pattern, with high-end consumers becoming early adopters. But for now, it’s older Americans who believe that the pace of technological advancement can bring the future closer.

Source: Kantar, Lightspeed

Editor's Notes

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