A significant knowledge gap in the understanding of connected and autonomous cars has been revealed in new research from Avis Budget Group.
Speaking to 14,000 people in 14 countries across Europe, it shows differences in awareness and understanding between countries and age groups.
The research asked respondents to select the correct definition of the term ‘connected car’. Just over half (54%) correctly took the term to mean ‘a car connected to the Internet which could talk to other devices’, while almost one in five (17%) were unsure or simply didn’t understand the term.
One in ten (13%) incorrectly understood it to mean a car connected to a power supply to charge its battery, while 7% believed it to be a car physically attached to another.
The same methodology was used to assess the understanding of the term ‘autonomous vehicle’, again revealing a distinct knowledge gap amongst consumers.
While more than half (56%) of those surveyed correctly identified the term to mean ‘a car which drives itself’, almost one in five (17%) took it to mean a car driven by an ‘artificial intelligence droid’, 7% believed it to be a car that must be parked in its own parking spot or away from traffic.
The lowest understanding of the term was found to be among the 18-23 (47%) and 24-36 (51%) age groups, compared to 67% for those aged 66-plus, despite younger age groups being the most likely to prefer an autonomous car over the one they currently own.
The highest propensity to choose an autonomous car was found among those aged 24-36 (49%) and 18-23 (47%) compared to just 26% of the 66-plus age group.
The research went on to reveal marked differences in understanding of these two key themes of future mobility across the 14 European countries surveyed.
Respondents in France had the highest understanding of the correct definition of a connected car (72%), followed by Italy (71%) and Portugal (68%).
By contrast, Norway recorded the lowest understanding at just 35 per cent, slightly behind Denmark (37%) and the UK (37%).
On the definition of an autonomous vehicle, Germany topped the awareness charts with 69%, followed by Austria (68%) and Switzerland (68%).
Interestingly, given their high awareness of connected cars, those in Italy recorded one of the lowest understanding of autonomous vehicles with just 46%, slightly behind the Netherlands (48%) and ahead of Norway (44%).
Mark Servodidio, president, international, Avis Budget Group, said: “This study highlights the stark gap in levels of understanding across Europe about mobility technologies.
“It’s clear as an industry we need to educate consumers across markets and age groups, highlighting the innovations and technological advances that have been made – which have helped make developments that were once only seen in science fiction, a reality.
“As a Global mobility business with a 70-year heritage, we are at the forefront of the shifting mobility landscape and we will continue to guide our customers on this journey as we evolve our business to meet their changing needs and preferences.”
Safety and responsibility were, perhaps inevitably, found to be key issues around autonomous vehicles.
Six in ten (60%) said that they would not feel safe if all cars on the road were fully autonomous, while the vast majority think that in order to ride in a self-driving car, people should be sober (86%), of legal driving age (87%) and hold a standard driving license (87%).
Importantly, three in five (60%) of Brits surveyed said they would prefer to drive their own car than use an autonomous vehicle.