As a media outlet that covers a lot of self-driving car news, it's easy for us to get wrapped up in the technical minutiae and the more business-driven aspects of that industry. It's possible we might lose sight, at times, of just how the motoring public feels about autonomous vehicles, but thankfully the fine folks at CarGurus figured that they should find out.
For its 2019 autonomous driving survey, CarGurus polled 1,146 car owners to see what their opinions on a potential autonomous future might be. This is that CarGurus has conducted this survey, and the results are more than a little interesting.
"Consumer sentiment around self-driving cars is changing fast, with enthusiasm rapidly replacing skepticism," Madison Gross, director of customer insights at CarGurus, said in a statement Wednesday. "These benchmarked results demonstrate that today's consumers are becoming more comfortable with the idea of either owning an autonomous vehicle, or having them on the road, and it will be fascinating to continue to monitor this perception shift."
Last year, just 21% of those polled said that they were excited about autonomous vehicles, but this year that number jumps all the way to 32%. Perhaps even more telling is that the number of people concerned about the advent of self-driving cars dropped by 10%, from 47% to 37%. Whether that's due to more public testing, a perceived change in where the tech is now or just having had time to deal with the idea is unclear.
Of the nearly 1,200 people polled, 29% said that they would trust Tesla to make a self-driving car. That number is more than triple that of the next-highest manufacturer, Toyota. Tesla led the pack in last year's survey as well, and we imagine that a lot of that is down to the manufacturer's image of cutting-edge and its use of terms like and " ."
Based on what we learned during, autonomy is clearly on its agenda. However, unlike companies like of instrumented testing on public roads, Tesla has done very little beyond pulling data from its customer's vehicles as those customers use Autopilot.
Another big topic of Tesla's Autonomy Investor Day involved the company's plans to. Other ride-hailing companies such as and have also been investing vast amounts of time and money in self-driving car research in order to be the first to market with an autonomous cab; however according to CarGurus' survey, only around 35% of people would be willing to hop in a driverless car from a ride-hailing service.
CarGurus' data was collected in March, well before Tesla went robotaxi-crazy during its autonomy presentation, so we would be interested to see if Tesla vowing to get into that field would sway that 35% number, given people's trust in the brand to develop the technology.
So, what is Roadshow's takeaway from all of this? It's that people are starting to warm to the idea of their cars doing all the work of driving. People's opinions are softening as the technology becomes more advanced and more visible.
Despite what Elon Musk says, we're still a fair ways off from having fully driverless cars lurking all over our highways and byways, but it's good to know that when they show up, people will seemingly be ready to accept them.