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Consumers would prefer to buy a self-driving car from Google over Ford

Lucas Mearian | Oct. 14, 2013
U.S. automakers get a bad rap from discussion groups

While the list was not comprehensive, what came through "loud and clear," according to KPMG, was that technology companies scored highest among consumers in the focus groups, with a median score of 8 on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 as the highest level of trust. Premium auto brands received a score of 7.75, while mass-market brands received a score of 5, KPMG wrote in its report.

Additionally, the focus groups' answers revealed a bias against American-made cars. For example, one Chicago panelist said, "I made it real simple - and this might not be socially correct - but [I gave] all the Asian brands a 10. All the European brands an eight. All the American cars a zero."

The study also found a self-driving value proposition, where if companies get the technology and capabilities right, consumers will clamor and pay for it.

"We realize significant hurdles and open questions remain, including safety, liability and even cybersecurity concerns," said Silberg. "In addition, technological innovation often moves faster than legal or regulatory systems. However, we believe the market opportunities for self-driving vehicles and technologies are enormous, and innovative companies will continue to drive the technology forward."

But not all surveys have shown consumers ready to hand over the wheel to a computer.

For example, a 2012 survey of British drivers commissioned by Bosch, a Germany-based supplier of automotive components, most of the respondents said they wouldn't buy a self-driving car. Only 29% said they would consider buying a driverless car, and 21% said they would feel safe as a passenger in such a car.

The results differed somewhat by gender. About 36% of male respondents said they would consider buying a self-driving car, while 20% of female participants responded that way. Bosch, which has invested heavily in driver assistance technology, also reported that 34% of the respondents said they believe driverless cars would reduce accidents.


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