Driverless cars are coming down the road. Government regulators are already working on guidelines and Tesla and Uber are calling for driverless cars by 2020. With Uber, you can understand their excitement about having driverless cars – no hiring, no salaries, no employee issues, and no firing of employees. On the extreme end of the scale, it is understandable why owners of pickup trucks, Jeeps, and other SUVs are not looking forward to driverless cars – driving is part of the fun of owning such a vehicle. It may come as a surprise to most people but the desire for driverless cars leans heavily to the luxury car class with Infiniti and Mercedes-Benz in the lead according to a MaritzCX survey (seen below.) The luxury car owners view a driverless car as safer – while automatic, there are no human variables – driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, falling asleep at the wheel, eating while driving, or trying to use a smartphone while driving.
Society as a whole seems intrigued with the idea, but may have some reservations – 94-percent of those surveyed are aware the driverless cars are coming…a very high amount. However, almost 48-percent of those surveyed claimed they were not interested in buying one for themselves, but 27-percent of the Infiniti and Mercedes-Benz owners said they were “very interested” and the Chevrolet, Honda, Toyota, and Ford owners are in the middle with 18-20-percent acceptance rate. In a British only survey, the number of rejection rises to 70-percent.
Marketing has a lot to do with it – Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk is very excited about driverless cars and the artificial intelligence (AI) that they will possess and this enthusiasm extends itself to the potential customers. Yes, there was an accident in one of the Tesla cars, but research on autonomous vehicles is moving forward despite the tragedy. We are talking about a car, driving itself down the highway – actually getting easy now – or through a crowded city – and this is where consumers have misgivings. These misgivings may be as much about being a 'driver' in the driverless car to being a pedestrian in the city. What is nice about Tesla’s AutoPilot, is that new updates can automatically be downloaded at any time with no driver intervention.
Mercedes and Infiniti have also pushed the idea of a driverless car, or at least many of the advantages – such as automatic braking. Both manufacturers push the idea at auto shows and on TV, with the hopes that their buyers will be wooed by the idea of avoiding an accident. However, even in the ranks of the luxury automobile, there are different divisions. Certain luxury cars are designed for luxury, not always the enthusiastic driver – Mercedes, Infiniti, Jaguar, some Lexus models, Cadillac, or say a Bentley has drivers that are more refined and want to sit back and relax. Then you have buyers of luxury sports cars such as Porsche, BMW, or Corvette that WANT to drive their cars – that is why they purchased Luxury Sport cars in the first place – however, it's possible that there are times on those long boring highways, that even they may want to take a break from driving.
Driverless cars are still away off, but they are coming – Google and Auto manufacturers have spent billions of dollars on making them a reality. Taxi trials are beginning in Singapore and of all cities – that has very few current taxis – Pittsburgh, PA. Uber has also signed up with Volvo to build a fully autonomous car for its fleet in Pittsburgh. Uber will offer free rides for a while to get customers used to the service, but did say that you will not be able to request a driverless car – you take what shows up. Ford is another auto company working hard to bring a driverless car to the public by 2021 – Ford CEO Mark Fields said the car will not have a steering wheel or any pedals.