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Automakers Should Take the Wheel in Development of Self-Driving Cars, Study Finds

Automakers Should Take the Wheel in Development of Self-Driving Cars, Study Finds

NEW YORK – Consumers expect automakers to take the lead in developing autonomous vehicles, although many would like to see them work in partnership with technology companies, according to a new study by Boston Consulting Group (BCG).

Even though tech firms like Google and Apple are working on autonomous vehicles, the BCG survey of more than 5,500 consumers in 10 countries found that almost 50 percent of respondents want traditional automobile manufacturers to be the prime movers in this development.

Of that group, however, 69 percent believe the automakers should work closely with technology companies as the evolution of autonomous vehicles continues.

A number of major auto manufacturers have been involved in developing and testing autonomous vehicles, including Audi, BMW, GM, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Tesla and Volvo.

Google, too, has made considerable progress with its own self-driving car program. It is currently testing prototype vehicles around the company’s headquarters in Mountain View, California, and its new facility in Austin, Texas.

And Apple’s plans, although highly secretive at this point, reportedly call for the testing of self-driving cars in California soon, with production beginning as early as 2020.

As work progresses on the development of autonomous vehicles, automakers could conceivably work with these companies to share knowledge and resources, but it’s also likely that they would turn to a wider variety of high-tech firms as both consultants and component suppliers.

These could include long-standing automotive suppliers, such as Delphi and Bosch, as well as new or nontraditional players like Velodyne (sensors), Mobileye (hardware and software) and Nvidia (computer systems).

In addition to asking who should take the lead in developing driverless cars, BCG also surveyed consumers about a number of other issues related to the subject, with interesting results.

For example, almost 60 percent of respondents said they’d be willing to ride in a fully autonomous vehicle, with parking convenience and increased productivity being cited as the two primary benefits of the technology.

The study also found that 40 percent of the consumers said they’d be willing to pay a premium price for the convenience of a self-driving car. And more than half of them said it would be worth more than an extra $5,000 to them.

Not surprisingly, safety and security are still a concern for many consumers. More than half flat-out said they’d feel unsafe in a self-driving car, another 45 percent felt that the lack of control would bother them, and a significant number said they were worried about the possibility of hacking or cyberattacks.

Another noteworthy finding of the study is that, even though nearly 60 percent of those surveyed said they’d ride in a self-driving car, only 35 percent of parents said they’d allow their children to ride in one.

Edmunds says: As development of autonomous vehicles continues, it’s a good bet that automakers and tech companies will work together to get these vehicles into the hands of consumers.

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