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People willing to pay $4,900 for autonomous tech, study says

Would you tack that much onto your car's price tag to get some time off from driving?


Everybody has a price. Apparently, that also extends to the price people would pay to add self-driving capabilities to their cars.

According to a new study from the journal "Transportation Research Part C: Emerging Technologies," people are willing to pay about $3,500 for partial vehicle automation, and about $4,900 for full autonomy. The study defined partial autonomy as being similar to today's advanced driver-assistance systems such as automatic emergency braking.

The study pulled data from a panel of 1,260 individuals who answered survey questions related to the vehicle purchase process. While that might seem like a small number, the group running the study managed to scoop up a representative cross-section of the US population.

Given the number of semi-autonomous systems already on the market, it's no wonder buyers have a hard time understanding it all.


While that might make it sound like everyone agreed on a price, the study actually produced some incredibly diverse answers. Some respondents are entirely unwilling to pay more money for autonomous cars, whereas households with a greater knowledge of the technology might be willing to shell out more than $10,000 for full autonomy.

The study admits that, given the relative newness of autonomous-vehicle technology, a lack of understanding on the subject might be contributing to some of these responses. Limited choice in the survey might also contribute to the variation of answers across respondents. No study is perfect, obviously.

However, the group running the study believes some of that heterogeneity will fall by the wayside as the technology matures and consumers learn more about autonomous technology.

Thankfully, the buyers who aren't willing to pay anything more for autonomy won't have to wait too long for that to be commonplace. Automakers are finally beginning to offer its partially-autonomy systems as standard equipment, ahead of a 2022 mandate to have autonomous emergency braking installed on every new car.

And it's not just expensive models that include it as standard -- Toyota is set to outfit nearly every model and trim with autonomous emergency braking within the next year or so.