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Consumers Willing to Pay $4,900 Extra for a Self-Driving Car

The average consumer would be willing to pay an extra $4,900 for a car that can drive itself, according to a new study from researchers at Cornell University.

The report, "Are Consumers Willing to Pay to Let Cars Drive for Them? Analyzing Response to Autonomous Vehicles," also found that some people would pay in excess of $10,000 for a fully autonomous vehicle. And many would shell out $3,500 more for even partial autonomy, such as advanced crash-avoidance technology.

To arrive at their conclusions, the researchers surveyed a group of 1,260 consumers from across the U.S., asking them a series of questions based on a variety of hypothetical purchasing scenarios. The questions probed both the participants' interest in various types of technology and how much they'd be willing to pay for it.

"Automation of personal transportation is becoming a reality at a faster pace than anticipated," said Ricardo Daziano, Ph.D., lead author of the study, in a statement. "To plan for and analyze the large impacts of automation, policymakers and car manufacturers need to understand the market. Our study is an initial attempt to quantify how households currently perceive and economically value automated vehicle technologies."

Not surprisingly, participants expressed a wide range of preferences and perceived value of vehicle automation. While some said they wanted full self-driving capability even if it added more than $10,000 to the cost of a car, others wouldn't be willing to pay anything at all for even a lower level of automation.

Increased acceptance of vehicle autonomy on the part of many consumers is likely due to familiarity with some of the automated features that are now available on most mass-market vehicles, including lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency braking.

But, even so, it's clear that not all car shoppers are onboard with autonomous cars or willing to pay for these advanced features just yet. As a result, the study's authors suggest that automakers take these different attitudes into account and provide consumers with a variety of flexible options as vehicle technology continues to advance.

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