Most connected car owners wouldn’t buy a self-driving car

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A new survey suggests most consumers would have a hard time relinquishing control of the wheel

While companies like Uber and Google continue to move forward with autonomous vehicle technology, a new study suggests consumers’ trust in self-driving cars is low.

Almost 60 percent of drivers who currently own a connected car -- defined as a vehicle with certain “smart” technology features -- said they wouldn’t buy a self-driving car even if money wasn’t an issue, according to a survey conducted by Solace.

Many connected car drivers admitted they don’t always feel comfortable handing over the driving controls to their vehicle. While 62 percent of connected car drivers believe their vehicles help them drive safer, 40 percent of respondents said they wouldn’t trust their car to brake for them; a mere 9 percent said they “always trust their connected car.”

Millennials have the least trust

The study -- which drew its findings from the responses of 1,500 connected car drivers weighted against U.S. Census Bureau data -- found that young millennials are more likely to want full control of their vehicle compared to baby boomers.

Younger consumers are generally thought of as being open to new technology, but the survey found that almost half (46 percent) of respondents aged 18-25 said they would not trust their car to automatically react to driving conditions. Only a third of drivers 65 or older felt the same.

“The automotive industry is focused on bringing self-driving cars to the mass market, but our survey showed that connected car drivers of all ages just aren't ready to hand over the wheel," said Shawn McAllister, CTO of Solace.

"While advancements in autonomous vehicle technologies are incredibly exciting, it's important to keep an understanding of the consumer front and center. We hope our survey will help in this regard."

Connected car features

Those surveyed owned a car with connected device features such as Bluetooth connectivity, safety sensors, GPS navigation, remote door locks, WiFi, or voice assistance.

While most consumers said they’re becoming more comfortable with connected car features -- and are especially happy to receive safety and navigation assistance -- many drivers didn’t know what information their connected cars can store.

Nearly half (48 percent) of respondents weren’t aware that their connected vehicle could store personal information such as their home address, birthday, and social security number.

Overall, the findings suggested consumers are receptive to features that improve the driving experience -- but most aren’t eager to allow technology to completely take control.

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