Safety, Consumer Acceptance Serve as Top Autonomous Vehicle Concerns

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With automakers like FCA fast-tracking toward autonomous vehicles, it can seem inevitable to think the traditional model of buying and selling cars could face a disruption.

However, concerns with consumer acceptance, safety, and technology costs might hinder that thought, according to Automotive IQ’s Autonomous Vehicles Summit survey.

Although 71% of manufacturers expressed an interest to invest at least $10 million in autonomous technology in the next 18 months, respondents also anticipate autonomous vehicle revenue to account for only 1% to 10% of their organizations’ total revenue. In a nutshell, “although autonomous vehicles are of high priority, they might not be widely accepted by consumers in the next decade,” the survey notes.

The reason, according to the survey stems from a number of concerns that come with autonomous vehicles — the top inhibitor being safety, with about 40% of OEMs stating safety is a top challenge when implementing autonomous technology, the survey finds. Additionally, consumer acceptance, which includes readiness to adopt and pay for new technology, represented 56% of concerns.

Safety issues relate to insufficient performance data, difficulty storing and analyzing data, trade-offs between design and functionality, and cost of sensors and LIDAR technology.

Other top concerns noted among OEMs and distributors were cybersecurity and privacy at 34%, the lack of regulatory frameworks at 32%, and keeping development costs down at 29%.

Despite the concerns, OEMs’ willingness to invest means selling the vehicles through its dealerships, Tony Boutelle, president and chief executive of CU Direct, told AFN. If automakers continue to add autonomous vehicles to their fleets, there could be trouble for lenders.

“If that’s all done by the OEMs and their captives, that’s going to cut out loan potentials to banks and credit unions,” he said. While it’s not clear yet what OEMs’ investment in autonomous vehicles means for lenders, there is “some potential risk,” Boutelle warns.

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As Associate Editor of Auto Finance News, Nicole Casperson reports on the latest news and trends impacting the auto finance space. As an experienced business reporter from Texas, she previously covered the housing and mortgage industry. Former bylines include Dallas-based DSNews and MReport magazines.