Americans trust tech firms—not automakers—to build driverless cars

by | Jun 1, 2017 | Public Relations

Connected and driverless cars are clear emerging consumer trends, but the industry could use some help from marketers and PR pros in creating a better comfort level for potential buyers.

New research from connected car services and location analytics firm INRIX reveals three key themes around consumer experiences of—and their attitudes toward—connected cars and autonomous vehicles: concerns around data privacy, the importance of road and vehicle safety, and the level of trust and confidence in the connected car and autonomous vehicles market.

The firm recently published the results of its Connected & Autonomous Vehicle (AV) Consumer Survey, with insight into the products, services and pain points emerging in this multi-trillion dollar market.

The report also found that familiarity with emerging technologies and their benefits will be central to winning customers. In addition, current owners of connected vehicles (aggregated across the five countries) are significantly more receptive to connected features, more trusting of data sharing, and more likely to purchase an autonomous vehicle.

“A new battleground is emerging between automakers, tech companies and ridesharing companies in the race to develop connected and autonomous vehicles,” said Bob Pishue, senior economist at INRIX, in a news release. “With hundreds of millions of connected cars expected to be on the roads within the next 15 years, the market share will be owned by companies that can educate drivers and gain consumer trust.”

Trust and confidence

Trust is a vital component for brands to build lasting relationships with consumers. New entrants into the automotive industry face challenges compared to legacy brands.


  • Technology giants (i.e. Apple and Google) are trusted slightly more than automakers to build autonomous vehicles (27 percent vs. 23 percent), followed distantly by ridesharing companies (four percent).
  • Six out of 10 respondents (62 percent) believe AVs will be widely available within a decade.
  • While 75 percent of Baby Boomers believe that autonomous vehicles will likely improve access for the elderly, 53 percent are still unlikely to purchase an AV.


  • Almost three (2.8) times as many Germans trust traditional carmakers to build autonomous cars compared to tech giants, and fewer than four percent of respondents trust ridesharing.
  • Nearly half of current connected car owners say they would likely or definitely purchase an autonomous vehicle, compared to 19 percent of non-connected car owners.
  • More than two-thirds of all Germans believe that autonomous vehicles will likely improve access for the elderly.

Data privacy

In an increasingly connected world, an enormous amount of data is generated by vehicles and their passengers. Consumers are concerned about how this data is handled, stored and shared.


  • 1.4 times as many Americans trust established tech giants to secure their connected car data than automakers.
  • Generation X and Millennials trust tech companies the most with their vehicle data, while nearly half of Baby Boomers trust no one.
  • 29 percent of respondents do not trust any company to secure their in-car data and privacy.


  • 1.5 times as many British drivers trust traditional car makers with their data compared to Silicon Valley’s tech giants. 34 percent of all respondents do not trust anyone.
  • Across all countries surveyed, consumers under age 44 are more likely to trust technology companies with their data, while their older counterparts have more trust in automakers.
  • Nearly 90 percent of connected car owners trust other companies with their vehicle data, while only 60 percent of non-connected car owners trust others.

Road safety

Traffic accidents are one of the leading causes of preventable death globally. Many believe connected car technology and autonomous vehicles will herald a new safety era for people on the road.


  • Blind spot warning is the most desired new car feature, followed by stolen vehicle warning/tracking, night vision, road incident alerts and re-routing, and rear/front collision alerts.
  • 71 percent of respondents expect autonomous vehicles to be as safe or safer than today’s cars.
  • 73 percent of Baby Boomers don’t believe AVs will be safer than cars on the road today.


  • Nearly three-quarters of respondents said they would be most interested in blind spot warning technology, followed by night vision and rear/front collision alert.
  • 85 percent of Italian drivers believe AVs will be at least as safe as current cars.
  • Respondents are most willing to pay for safety-related connected car tech compared with other categories like infotainment, driver assistance and vehicle management.

Download the complete report here.

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter


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