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‘Sea-change’ in interest for driverless cars

The proportion of UK motorists who said they liked the idea of self-driving cars has tripled in 12 months but drivers are still not ready to commit.

The research found three in 10 drivers (31%) said they were in favour of self-driving cars, up from one in 10 (10%) a year ago

With the Government planning to have fully autonomous vehicles on UK roads by 2021 – and current plans could see testing on public roads by the end of this year – the research from Close Brothers Motor Finance found three in 10 drivers (31%) said they were in favour of self-driving cars, up from one in 10 (10%) a year ago; however, just 6% of drivers would actually consider buying one as their next car.

The research, taken from Close Brothers Motor Finance’s new Britain Under the Bonnet report that launches next month, also found self-driving cars are most popular amongst young drivers – one in seven (14%) would buy a driverless car next, compared to 2% of those over 55.

Geographical location also had a part to play. Londoners were the most likely to be in favour of driverless cars (38%), while those in Wales were the least (24%). One in ten (10%) Londoners would like to buy an autonomous car next.

However, those in favour of driverless cars had some caveats. Two-thirds (68%) would need to see more evidence that they were safe before they bought one. Half (48%) worried about how the law would work in the event of an accident.

More broadly, 38% of drivers said they are not in favour as they would want to be in control of the car, and 35% do not trust the technology.

Seán Kemple, director of sales, Close Brothers Motor Finance, commented: “The sci-fi element of driverless cars certainly captures the imagination and is a great point for discussion. While interest is on the rise, it is telling that just 6% of drivers would actually consider buying one as their next car.

“Nevertheless, it poses some important questions for the future. The courier service industry is already anticipating huge changes, particularly for last-mile delivery, and not much further down the line the taxi industry is likely to change too. How these industries respond to these changes will be important to observe, and it is essential that dealers keep ahead of the curve and retain a holistic view of the industry. This will allow them to make the most informed decisions about the types of cars for their forecourts when the time comes.”

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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.