Study claims Tesla and other EVs, autonomous driving tech, are not wanted by consumers

(Photo: Andres GE)

A recent study from US-based global marketing information services firm JD Power has concluded that consumers are not at all that excited about the advent of full self-driving vehicles, or electric cars for that matter. According to the firm, the respondents of its study exhibited a low level of confidence for autonomous vehicles and a neutral level of confidence for electric cars. 

The rather surprising results are sourced from JD Power’s Mobility Confidence Index Study, which was conducted in collaboration with SurveyMonkey, which polled 5,749 consumers who were asked about self-driving vehicles, and 5,270 consumers who were asked about all-electric cars. The respective results of both polls were then converted to a 100-point scale. According to the firm, the results were not encouraging, with autonomous vehicles scoring 36 out of 100 and EVs scoring 55 out of 100. 

JD Power has not published the full results of its study, though it has noted that the respondents of its self-driving vehicle survey expressed concerns about riding in autonomous cars themselves, as well as being on the road with other drivers while inside a self-driving car. The firm noted that 71% of the study’s respondents were most worried about tech failures that can happen while an autonomous vehicle is in operation, while 57% were concerned about the possibility of the cars getting hacked. It should be noted that 68% of the study’s respondents admitted that they had “little to no knowledge about self-driving vehicles.” 

The results of JD Power’s EV survey were a bit better compared to its full self-driving vehicle study. Charging infrastructure and battery range were listed as “critical challenges which must be addressed,” with 64% of respondents having concerns about charging infrastructure, 77% expecting electric vehicles to have a range of at least 300 miles, and 74% stating that they were unwilling to wait more than 30 minutes to replenish 200 miles of range in a charging station.

Amidst these concerns, only 39% of the respondents to JD Power’s survey stated that they were likely to purchase an electric vehicle, while 49% expressed concerns about the reliability of EVs compared to gas-powered cars. Similar to the respondents of the full self-driving vehicle study, 68% of those who were surveyed about electric vehicles stated that they had no experience with EVs at all, with some admitting that they have never sat inside an electric car. 

(Photo: Tesla)

Kristin Kolodge, executive director, driver interaction & human-machine interface research at JD Power, stated that the results of the study were not encouraging for EVs and autonomous driving systems. “Out of the box, these scores are not encouraging. As automakers head down the developmental road to self-driving vehicles and greater electrification, it’s important to know if consumers are on the same road — and headed in the same direction. That doesn’t seem to be the case right now. Manufacturers need to learn where consumers are in terms of comprehending and accepting new mobility technologies—and what needs to be done.” she said. 

Considering the aggressive push for electric car adoption and the equally aggressive push for the retirement of the internal combustion engine in regions such as Europe and China, the results of JD Power’s survey, which seemed to be driven by respondents that simply lacked information, are quite interesting, and perhaps not representative of global car buyers as a whole.

If any, the fact that the majority of respondents in both surveys admitted to having little experience or knowledge about EVs and self-driving systems highlights the need for more information dissemination, especially from companies like Tesla. After all, Tesla has already addressed the biggest concerns highlighted by the respondents of JD Power’s EV survey, as evidenced by its Supercharger Network, its proprietary fast-charging technology, and the release of vehicles like the Model S Long Range, which can go 370 miles on a single charge.

Simon Alvarez: Simon is a reporter with a passion for electric cars and clean energy. Fascinated by the world envisioned by Elon Musk, he hopes to make it to Mars (at least as a tourist) someday.
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