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Autonomous cars not viable business option for 10-15 years, says flexible leasing firm

Flexible car leasing company Cars on Demand says it currently has no plans to specifically invest in fully automated cars as its research finds consumer trust in the safety of self-driving cars is still low.

Paul Brown, managing director of Cars on Demand

A survey of 1,000 drivers carried out by the company has found that just one in 10 people choosing an automated vehicle compared to their partner to drive them safely to their destination.

Mistrust of driverless technology is highest among the over-55s with only 8% saying they would feel safer in an automated car than being driven by their partner. This is in comparison to younger drivers in the 18-34 age bracket, 12% of whom surveyed said they would feel safer in an automated car.

The research comes just weeks after the Government said it was advancing its plans for trials of self-driving vehicles, which could see testing start on public roads by the end of this year.

Paul Brown, managing director of Cars on Demand, said: “There is a huge amount of noise being made by the Government about the UK becoming a hub for self-driving cars, but the hype around the concept is far greater than the reality.

“As a country, we are nowhere near ready for mainstream automated vehicles (AV) and we don’t see this being a viable option for at least another 10 to 15 years for our business. It’s important that investments continue to be made in order to create more reliable and accurate options, but the current infrastructure is not prepared to support the new AV technology.

“There are many issues that need resolving before the UK becomes totally dependent on AVs, from traffic management to the issue of liability and insurance claims in the case of incidents. Through our business, we have over a thousand cars on UK roads annually but I do not yet have the confidence in the technology to factor AV investment into our future growth plans.”

The UK market for connected and automated vehicles is forecast to be worth up to £52 billion by 2035. In February 2018 the government announced that a process was being developed to support advanced trials of automated vehicles, which would not be supported unless they had passed rigorous safety assessments.

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.