For many American car drivers (and car buffs), especially males in the Baby Boomer and Gen X categories, the driving experience could be summed up by a few themes – Manifest Destiny, Route 66, and Vegas, Baby, Vegas!
As robotic cars become an imminent possibility – autonomous cars by 2020 and semi-autonomous cars much sooner – there are some big questions out there about how well this technology will be embraced by car buffs who love performance, style, and freedom behind the wheel
There’s also the question of how much it will cost – a technology upgrade this big is bound to spike up sticker prices.
A JD Power and Associates survey from last year found 37% of drivers interested in driverless cars, but interest level dropped to 20% if it adds $3K to price of car.
Big issue is period of transition to autonomous cars – will have to cultivate buyers who will be comfortable sitting in driverless car, says Jim Hall, managing director of 2953 Analytics at Automotive Press Association.
There’s also a list of unanswered legal and insurance questions in this age of litigation and regulation – following a fatal crash, who gets the blame?
Whatever the implications, automakers are heading full speed in this direction – adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning systems, and automated parallel parking are vivid examples of this transitional technology.
We’re actually already half the way there – first cars that had brake intervention was bellwether moment for autonomous cars, Hall said.
One of the keys for customer acceptance would be to make it easy to turn autonomous functions on and off, making sure the driver has control.
Hall thinks autonomous cars should first be adopted by taxis and rental cars, especially in large, crowded cities where shortcuts could be found