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Report: Autonomous Vehicles Gaining Favor Over Car Ownership

Drivers in China were twice as likely than those in the U.S. to say they’d consider giving up car ownership (78% vs. 39%), with those in Europe falling in between (55%).

Many car owners would consider giving up car ownership in the future in favor of autonomous mobility solutions, such as self-driving buses or taxis, according to a new report, ”Mobility Services: The Customer Perspective,” from Accenture.

And this true of those who see themselves owning a car in the future.  Of the 96% of car owners said they think they will own a car in the future, nearly half (48%) said they would consider giving up car ownership if autonomous mobility solutions were available.

Perhaps somewhat surprising, owners of premium-brand cars were more likely than owners of non-premium brands to say they’d be willing to give up car ownership for autonomous mobility solutions. Among owners of premium-brand cars, those in China were twice as likely than those in the U.S. to say they’d consider giving up car ownership (78% vs. 39%), with those in Europe falling in between (55%).

“The transition from car ownership to mobility-as-a-service seems inevitable, so traditional auto manufacturers will be at great risk of losing customers to new mobility service providers that can establish mature offers,” said Brian Irwin, managing director at Accenture who leads its Automotive and Mobility practice in North America and the Industry X.0 Consulting practice, in the announcement.  

“Traditional car companies need to begin fully embracing alternatives to the ownership model — becoming brokers of mobility solutions rather than just car manufacturers,” Irwin added. “And given the greater willingness among the Chinese for autonomous mobility solutions, manufacturers might consider China as a blueprint for their efforts before rolling out solutions to Europe and the U.S.”

The report also noted that revenues from mobility services are projected to reach nearly €1.2 trillion by 2030, with the exponential growth in the market for mobility as a service driven by constant improvements in autonomous vehicle technologies.

Brand Value in Danger

Another key finding of the report: Vehicle brand is losing its importance. When asked to rank their top criteria for both car purchasing and car-sharing from among more than a dozen factors — including price, speed, flexibility, comfort, environmental impact, brand and privacy — respondents overall ranked brand as the sixth-most-important factor in terms of car buying but tenth in terms of car-sharing.

“While brand clearly enables some auto manufacturers to charge a premium for their products, the importance of brand will likely fade for the product and shift to the service as the popularity of car-sharing services and autonomous vehicles grows,” said Irwin.

High Interest for Add-on Services

The survey findings indicate a strong desire for add-on services to autonomous mobility trips — such as music and video streaming, wellness (e.g., massage seats), food and hotel services — with 89% of all respondents, and 97% of those between 18 and 37 years old, expressing interest in such services. Yet the report notes a large difference between the geographies, with respondents in China far more likely to say they’d pay for such services.

“There is clearly great interest — and therefore significant revenue potential — for add-on services in the future of autonomous mobility,” Irwin added. “To get a jump on the competition, car companies should start piloting and refining these services to be ready once autonomous vehicles hit the market.”

Untapped Potential for Autonomous Vehicles Outside Cities

The study also found that almost half (45%) of respondents said they’d be willing to change their place of residence if their daily commute could be facilitated by autonomous vehicles. Respondents in China were the most likely to cite this willingness to relocate, at 55%, compared with 42% of European respondents and 37% of U.S. respondents.

In addition, one-third (34%) of all respondents said they’d consider moving to a suburb or rural area when autonomous vehicles become reality. While most auto manufacturers focus their autonomous driving activities on urban areas, the report suggests that they expand their focus to suburban and rural areas, since more than one-third (37%) of urban premium customers said they would consider moving to those areas if their daily commutes could be facilitated by autonomous vehicles there.

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