DETROIT — The degree of consumer trust in vehicle automation is directly related to the driver's age, according to a new report from J.D. Power.
The J.D. Power 2016 U.S. Tech Choice Study, based on an online survey of almost 8,000 consumers who purchased or leased a new vehicle within the past five years, found that the age groups most trusting of self-driving technology were Generation Y (those born 1977-'94) and Generation Z (born 1995-2000), with more than half of each saying they'd make the leap to fully automated cars.
On the other hand, just 18 percent of respondents in the Pre-Baby-Boom generation (born before 1946) said they would trust the technology, followed by 23 percent of Boomers (born 1946-'64) and 41 percent of those in Generation X (born 1965-'76).
Whatever their age group, all survey respondents expressed concerns about security issues, such as privacy and the potential for the on-board technology to be hacked, resulting in a crash of either the system or the vehicle itself.
"The level of trust is directly linked to the level of interest in a new technology among automobile buyers," said Kristin Kolodge, executive director of driver interaction and HMI research at J.D. Power, in a statement. "Acceptance can be increased with exposure over time and experience with automated technologies. But trust is fragile and can be broken if there is an excessive number of incidents with automated vehicles."
The study also assessed consumer interest in several specific safety and convenience technologies and, perhaps not surprisingly, found the level of interest to be highly price-dependent.
For example, respondents initially ranked night-vision systems and lane-change assist in the top-ten desirable technologies, but both dropped off that list when their costs were revealed — $2,000 and $1,500, respectively, according to J.D. Power.
Night vision systems are available primarily on luxury models from such manufacturers as Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Rolls-Royce, while lane-change assist is more widely available, even on more affordable vehicles.
After prices were divulged, the features most desirable to consumers included economy navigation systems, wireless device connection, rear-view cameras, smart parking systems and traffic information displays.
The study found that the technology features with the lowest consumer interest included trailer-connect assist, trailer-towing visibility systems, full self-driving capability and new-driver monitoring.
Edmunds says: Although this study shows that consumer trust in vehicle technology varies with age, as J.D. Power notes, acceptance increases with exposure.