Why Car Owners Trust and Mistrust Self-Driving Cars

After Consumer Watchdog’s survey that showed why many consumers don’t want self-driving cars, a CarGurus’ survey shows that today’s car owners have expressed overall concern about having them on the roads. The survey also revealed which company car owners trust the most to develop self-driving car technology, why car owners are excited or concerned about self-driving cars and which car brands have the most or least enthused owners when it comes to self-driving cars.

Overall, the survey discovered:

  • 79% of car owners are not excited about self-driving cars
  • 84% of car owners say they definitely will not or probably will not own a self-driving car in the next 5 years, 59% say the same for a 10-year window

When asked which company they trusted most to develop self-driving cars, there were two clear winners based on responses. Even though more than one quarter (27%) do not trust any company with self-driving car technology, Tesla was clearly the top choice among the remaining respondents:

  1. None (27%)
  2. Tesla (24%)
  3. Toyota (9%)
  4. General Motors (Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick) (6%)
  5. Waymo (Google) (5%)

The survey also uncovered that safety is actually the top reason for both excitement and concern as seen below:

Among those who are excited about self-driving cars, the top three reasons are:

  1. Safety (64%)
  2. Productive commute/travel (58%)
  3. Drives for me (54%)

Among those who are concerned about self-driving cars, the top three reasons are:

  1. Safety (81%)
  2. Technology is not ready (47%)
  3. Worry about who to blame if something goes wrong (45%)

“The data showed strong opinions and overall trepidation about self-driving cars,” said Madison Gross, Senior Manager of Consumer Insights at CarGurus.  “As is often the case with new technology, exposure seems to build comfort. Even though some early adopters are very excited about self-driving cars, the majority of the general public will need time to become more comfortable around them.”

The survey also looked into self-driving car perception by analyzing which car brand the respondent owned. When looking at the brands with the largest sample sizes in the data set, the top five most excited and concerned owners are below.

Most excited about self-driving cars by current brand ownership:

  1. Acura owners
  2. Hyundai owners
  3. Volkswagen owners
  4. Dodge owners
  5. BMW owners

Owners most concerned about self-driving cars by current brand ownership:

  1. Mazda owners
  2. Mercedes-Benz owners
  3. Nissan owners
  4. Kia owners
  5. Chevrolet/Jeep/Lexus*

*Chevrolet, Jeep and Lexus owners expressed the same level of concern