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Western, Chinese consumers divided on electric, self-driving cars

Western, Chinese consumers divided on electric, self-driving cars
Chinese consumers are much more likely to buy electric cars than their European or US counterparts. Picture: REUTERS

Automakers, ride-hailing and technology companies ploughing money into the development of electric, self-driving and shared car services will find more enthusiastic consumers in China than in Europe and the US, a survey has shown.

Consumers in some Western countries appear unconvinced as carmakers overhaul their factories and supply chains to produce pricey electric cars and invest billions to develop self-driving technology, the survey by OC&C Strategy Consultants showed.

While more than 90% of Chinese residents said they would consider, were likely to or definitely would buy an electric car, only about half of the surveyed consumers in the US were eyeing an electric car as their next purchase. In Europe, between 64% and 77% of respondents said the same.

The research comes as the global auto industry is undergoing drastic changes with a downturn in sales, pressure to meet ambitious emissions targets and challenges in deploying fully self-driving cars as robotaxis.

OC&C surveyed around 2,000 consumers in each the US, China, Germany, France and the UK between March and April 2019 in online polls.

Car buyers in the US, Germany, France and the UK also largely want to retain private ownership of their vehicle, while more than 90% of Chinese consumers are open to fully-shared mobility options, according to the survey.

Ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft say they aim to reduce private car ownership.

But survey respondents in Western countries, including younger generations, said owning a car remained an important status symbol offering convenience and reliability not matched by car-sharing or taxi services.

The survey results also put a damper on companies working on robotaxis, with a vast majority of all respondents saying they would strongly prefer owning a fully automated car, as opposed to sharing it.

Overall, around a third of Western consumers in the survey said they were distrustful of self-driving cars, while only 4% of the Chinese respondents said so.

OC&C’s Evison said the results suggested the auto industry should invest more in electrification and services for individual car owners rather than “trying to create the next shared mobility revolution”.

– Reuters

Aston Martin and Airbus prepare to take to the skies. Picture: REUTERS
Aston Martin and Airbus prepare to take to the skies. Picture: REUTERS

Aston Martin Lagonda and Airbus Corporate Helicopters have teamed up to produce the best of automotive and aeronautical design.

For the past 12 months designers from both brands have worked together on the aesthetic styling of the first product from this collaboration, a helicopter that is set to be revealed early next year.

Commenting on the new partnership, Aston Martin Lagonda Vice-President and Chief Creative Officer, Marek Reichman said: “Applying our own automotive design principles in the aerospace world is a fascinating challenge and one that we are very much enjoying. I’m looking forward to the reveal in the New Year so we can show everyone what we have accomplished together.”

Airbus Corporate Helicopters is the global market leader in the private and business aviation (PBA) sector with more than 1,800 aircraft fielded in 130 countries and a market share in excess of 50%.

Frédéric Lemos, Head of Airbus Corporate Helicopters, said: “This is a bold cooperation which corresponds to our tradition of experimenting with new design approaches, the result is a unique creation of breathtaking design accomplishment and beauty.”

The first creation of the Aston Martin/Airbus Corporate Helicopters partnership will be revealed at Courchevel, in the French Alps next month.

It’s not the first time Aston Martin has used its design prowess outside of cars. Last year it teamed up with Triton submarines to build a stylish and luxurious mini submarine.

The self-driving Mercedes S-Class (with a safety driver aboard) will shuttle passengers in the US city of San Jose. Picture: SUPPLIED
The self-driving Mercedes S-Class (with a safety driver aboard) will shuttle passengers in the US city of San Jose. Picture: SUPPLIED

Bosch and Mercedes-Benz’s joint project to develop urban automated driving has now entered a new stage.

Their pilot project for an app-based ride-hailing service using automated Mercedes-Benz S-Class vehicles has now been launched in the US city of San José.

Monitored by a safety driver, the self-driving cars will initially be available to a select group of users. They will use an app developed by Daimler Mobility AG to book a journey by the automated S-Class vehicles from a defined pick-up point to their destination.

Mercedes-Benz and Bosch hope the trial will provide valuable insights into the further development of their automated driving system. The partners also expect to gain further insights into how self-driving cars can be integrated into an intermodal mobility system that also includes public transportation and car-sharing.

In mid-2017, San José was the first US city to invite private companies to carry out field tests of automated driving and analyse the growing challenges in road traffic. Especially in congested city traffic, self-driving cars’ permanent 360° surround sensing can potentially enhance safety, and their smooth driving style can improve traffic flow.

Source: www.businesslive.co.za

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