Luxury Buyers More Likely to Embrace Autonomous Autos

New research suggests that consumers who plan to buy luxury cars are embracing electric and autonomous vehicle features at a faster pace than their non-luxury counterparts. But these technologies still need to close a wide gap – of interest and trust – to reach mainstream success.

The latest Auto Tech Insights study from GfK AutoMobility™ shows that 50 percent of luxury car buyers are interested in buying or leasing an electric vehicle – up from 40 percent just one year ago. But interest among non-luxury intenders has remained flat, at 29 percent.

Among luxury auto buyers in Generation Y — people aged 23 to 41, desire for an electric car is even stronger, with nearly three-quarters expressing interest – compared to 62 percent last year. But among non-luxury Gen Y auto buyers, levels are essentially unchanged year-to-year, going from 44 percent in 2018 to 43 percent in 2019.

The new research also shows that members of Gen Y are dramatically split in their expectations of electric vehicle mileage. While one-third say an electric car would only need to run 50 to 100 miles per charge to be worthy of consideration, 29 percent would expect 401 to 800 miles. By comparison, only 14 percent of Baby Boomers (ages 54 to 72) would be comfortable with 50 to 100 miles per charge, while 23 percent would want 401 to 800 miles.

Luxury buyers are also increasingly open to higher levels of vehicle autonomy, leading their non-luxury counterparts by roughly 50 percent. Almost half of luxury auto buyers are interested in cars where no driver is required – a percentage that has risen eight points since 2018. In contrast, only 31 percent of non-luxury auto buyers are open to this highest level of autonomy, and the level has risen just three points since last year.

“To keep growing the opportunities in auto tech – especially electric and autonomous features – manufacturers need to close the dramatic gap between luxury and non-luxury buyers,” said Tom Neri, Commercial Director for GfK AutoMobility. “We see two key issues at play here – value and trust. Car buyers with less to spend may see smart auto tech as frivolous and beyond their means, rather than a practical tool that will help them get things done.

“At the same time, intenders – like consumers generally – may fear that the much-hyped breaches of personal data may soon be coming to their vehicles. Manufacturers and third-party providers need to assure consumers that these new technologies are safe and smart – leveraging their brand equity and demonstrating that they plan to take real actions that build confidence.”

The Auto Tech Insights report is based on interviews with 3,480 new vehicle intenders, conducted in July 2019. Intenders are defined as those intending a new vehicle within the next 10 years. The 2019 Auto Tech study included 832 Luxury Intenders and 2,648 Non-Luxury Intenders.  You can see the full report here. ◊


Photo credit Serge Kutuzov

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