Courtesy of Boston Consulting Group slide show

Courtesy of Boston Consulting Group slide show

A new study finds that many Americans would be willing to pay extra for self-driving technology, as Paul A. Eisenstein reports for The Detroit Bureau. The study, conducted by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), says that one-fifth of those Americans surveyed would pay more than $5,000 extra to get various autonomous features (AV), Eisenstein writes.

According to a BCG press release, the study is based on an analysis of AV technologies and economics; interviews with executives at automobile companies, suppliers, and tech companies worldwide; an exhaustive review of industry publications; and U.S. consumer survey data. Last September, BCG itself surveyed more than 1,500 drivers, asking how willing they would be to buy partially and fully autonomous vehicles, BCG writes.

Of those drivers it surveyed, 55% said they would be likely or very likely to buy a partially autonomous vehicle within about five years, and 44% said they would probably buy a totally self-driving car within 10 years,BCG writes. About 20% of those who BCG surveyed said they would pay $5,000 extra for such features as highway or urban pilot, BCG writes. Published estimates show that drivers in other countries — such as China, Germany, and Japan — would be willing to pay even more, BCG writes.

BCG discusses the world market for AVs:

Japan and Western Europe should be the fastest adopters, based on past experience with adaptive cruise control. The U.S. is expected to keep pace with global adoption rates, and China is expected to become the largest market for autonomous features, representing roughly 25 to 30 percent of global unit sales by 2035.

The most important reasons people want to buy AVs include: increased safety, lower insurance and fuel costs, and being able to multi-task or be entertained while in a moving vehicle, BCG writes. The study found that consumers have high levels of interest for AVs on highways; in traffic; along a single, commuter route; and for autonomous valet parking, BCG writes in a slide show of highlights of the study.

Eisenstein quotes Xavier Mosquet, co-author of the study and North American leader of BCG’s automotive practice, as saying the results of the study are “pretty significant considering nobody has yet driven one of these vehicles.” The study suggests that the first semi-autonomous vehicles will be on the market by 2016, with fully autonomous vehicles arriving by 2025, Eisenstein writes.

Major carmakers, as well as companies such as Google, have been at work on autonomous vehicles, as this blog has reported. Among those companies mentioned in BCG’s press release are: Google, with its fleet of 100 prototypes; Cadillac, which plans to introduce its limited AV technology, SuperDrive, in its CT6 model in 2016; Mercedes-Benz, which plans on a semi-autonomous car by 20106; Nissan, which promises a fully autonomous car by 2020; and BMW, which demonstrated its valet parking system in the Consumer Electronics Show is Las Vegas last week, as this blog reported.

BCG also reports that Tesla Motors announced plans to offer hand-free highway driving in its 2015 Model S electric sedans this year, and Volkswagen’s Audi unit said it will enable autonomous driving in urban traffic by 2016. Mobileye, a technology company, along with two original equipment manufacturers, plans to introduce the first hands-free-capable system for driving at highway speeds and in traffic, BCG adds. The press release quotes the study’s Mosquet, who is also managing director of the BCG’s Detroit office: “We are witnessing a decades-old dream come true.”

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