Self-driving cars are on the verge of breaking through into markets: Millions of test kilometers have already been completed and public interest continues to grow. As part of a survey involving 2,500 motorists in five major markets, 30 percent of respondents said they would be willing to pay a premium in excess of EUR 1,500 for a self-driving vehicle.
Almost 50 percent still valued the technology as being worth at least EUR 500. This is the result of the “Enabling the Value of Time” study conducted by management consultants Horváth & Partners in collaboration with the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO.
Almost half of the motorists surveyed are looking forward to a completely new driving sensation: With the space normally occupied by the driver’s seat being empty, the interior can be converted into a sleeper car, rolling office or multimedia center. Almost 38 percent of respondents from Germany, the fourth-largest new vehicle market in the world, are excited by the concept – a significantly lower number compared to respondents from China, Japan and France. However, Germans who are interested in the concept are especially willing to pay for the services. 34 percent of German motorists would pay more than EUR 1,500 for automated driving functions. “German drivers have typically always been very appreciative of technical innovations and assistants”, says Dr. Thomas Becker, head of the study at Horváth & Partners.
Chinese Respondents Are the Most Enthusiastic with Regard to ‘Robo-Vehicles’
The study entailed determining respondents’ interest in special vehicle designs and special equipment options with regard to the following themes: sleeping and relaxing, working and being productive, eating and drinking, entertainment, and beauty, wellness and fitness. “At first glance, the results of the international comparison are surprising”, says Dr. Florian Herrmann, head of the study at the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO. “With regard to all of the subject areas, the Chinese participants are the most interested and exhibit the highest willingness to pay. Japanese respondents take second place behind China in terms of interest, but exhibit the lowest willingness to pay.” These results are therefore not related to the degree of enthusiasm for technology in each country, as the investigation shows. The intensity of use analysis clarifies the situation: In Japan, drivers spend just 44 minutes behind the wheel each day compared to the average time of 70 minutes.
Relaxing during Private Journeys and Being Productive during Business Trips and Commutes
The specialist configuration that interests purchasers most depends, in particular, on the purpose for which a vehicle is to be used. In the case of leisure journeys lasting more than one hour or vacation journeys, sleeping and relaxation configuration options are valued most. In the case of job-related journeys, whether they are business trips or work commutes, productivity-related configuration options are more popular – from a work surface and computer workstation through to first-class speech-recognition assistants with dictation capabilities.
Another relevant factor is the number of persons traveling in the vehicle. At 62 percent, people traveling alone are most interested in sleeping and relaxation configuration options. In the case of two or more passengers being present, entertainment takes first place with 65 percent of the respondents.
Families Are Particularly Open to Sharing Services
Across all of the countries included in the study, respondents with families consistently show an above-average amount of interest in special usage options in order to spend the free time gained by the autopilot function in a useful or pleasant way. According to the survey, families are better positioned financially compared to the other respondents and are therefore prepared to invest in attractive specialist configurations. Compared to single and couple households, families are also more willing to forgo having their own vehicles and to use sharing services than other study participants.