Eighty-two percent of car owners in China are interested in self-driving vehicles, 86% of them have considered buying one, and 94% of those driving a car worth over one million yuan have an intention to purchase a self-driving car, proving that self-driving car has high recognition in Chinese market.
The Nielsen report titled “2018 Autonomous Driving Syndicated Report” said most car owners believe self-driving cars could free their hands (61%), at the same time, provide better ride experience by reducing fatigue (57%), and is safer as less accidents would happen (45%). While there are still some car owners that doubt the safety of self-driving cars when it comes to practical application (60%) and think it could be dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists (40%).
Self-driving vehicles are becoming increasingly popular in China as the global auto industry is tending to be more specialized in this sector. Nielsen did research among car owners in China’s first-tier and second-tier coastal cities, in a bid to provide a clear market picture for auto manufacturers.
More than 80% of Chinese Car Owners Intend to Purchase Self-Driving Cars Made by Conventional Automakers
The Nielsen report found that safety is the biggest concern for car owners when purchasing a self-driving car rather than a conventional car (64%), followed by comfort (35%), brand (34%) and driving control (33%). Customers expect the car to be equipped with superior exterior and exquisite interior, both offer a high-tech feeling. Those cars with more space, comfortable seats and smart or connected devices are preferable. Of all potential buyers, 61% believe self-driving cars should be new energy car, of which 23% believe it should be electric and others think hybrid electric vehicle (15%) or plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (15%).
Nielsen has found most car owners prefer self-driving cars offered by conventional automakers (82%) and only few others choose those made by big Internet platforms (13%) and start-up companies (5%). Customers who prefer conventional automakers think these companies have more technological experience and expertise (79%), also their product quality is more guaranteed (68%), but others believe those online platform giants are more specialized in making intelligence system (71%).
Car owners have higher expectations for autonomous driving to solve the pain points in daily transportation
According to the Nielsen report, private cars play an important role in daily life and are mainly used for family trips (98%) and commuting (93%). For now, drivers are least satisfied with traffic and parking problems. The slow start of the vehicle, poor driving experience and congestion often occur when driving in low-speed. Customers hope self-driving can relieve tiredness and reduce the number of accidents so the trip can be more comfortable for drivers and passengers. Although systems like Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) and Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) already exist, they are more useful at higher speeds and are not practical for low-speed scenarios. As for parking problem, the number and size of parking lots have caused great inconvenience for drivers. Things like automatic parking system and piloted parking are not that helpful because they are not developed enough and could take a long time.
The Nielsen study found that at present, for car owners, low-speed congestion and community/company parking are two scenarios where the frequency of occurrence is high but the satisfaction rate is very low.
Car owners expect autopilot to reduce fatigue and reduce accident rate to a certain extent, so that drivers and passengers can have a smoother and more comfortable ride experience. Although there are related systems such as Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) and Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), they are generally used in high-speed driving scenarios, and are not enough to support the use of large traffic or even congestion.
In regards to parking, the biggest problem is that there are too few parking spaces, and some spaces are very narrow. Although there are already related functions such as automatic parking and remote parking, consumers said that the frequency of use of these functions is low, mainly because the technology is not fully mature and takes a long time. But these features can also be used to assist in certain scenarios, such as helping new drivers or those with little experience to park in difficult situations.
In the future, car owners believe that autonomous driving will be used more in the context of meeting individual needs (77%), mainly for going out with friends(46%), commuting (43%) and self-driving travel (short-distance: 42%; long-distance :40%) and other scenes. In these scenarios, if they don’t have to drive all the time, they would choose to take a rest in the car (76%), have some entertainment (54%), networking (44%) or working (36%). The study found that female car owners noted a number of activities which could be done in the car if they don’t have to drive. They prefer socializing (51%), working (40%) or online shopping (26%).
Those with high-intention to purchase a self-driving car are trend-leaders, and technology-lovers
According to Nielsen, many car owners who are passionate about purchasing a self-driving car are male (63%), the majority are from first-tier cities (54%) and are from a three-member family with 86,000 yuan average pretax household income.
Those people enjoy relatively healthy leisure activities such as travelling (47%), hiking (35%) and playing ball games (25%). Fifty-one percent of high-intention car buyers spend more than three hours a day on mobile devices. They like networking, following latest technology news, shopping online, ordering take-away food and use mobile payment. They value word of mouth and trust recommendations from relatives and friends.
They like cars with both good looks and comfort, and are willing to pay a premium for safety technology and environmental protection. One-third of them understand and use auto-driving related functions, and 45% believe that the current auto industry is at Level 2 (SAE Autopilot Grading Standard, Partial Autopilot, hereinafter referred to as L2), and 23% car owners think that the current automatic driving is above the L2 level; nearly half of them expect their car to reach Level 4 (SAE automatic driving grading standard, highly automatic driving) and above.
“The development of self-driving vehicles still has a long way to go and many problems need to be addressed, especially those related to safety, China’s complex road conditions, and clear policy for autonomous-driving. However, we already see that a large number of consumers are excited for the development of the industry. And as autonomous vehicles improve and become widely available, we expect these cars to be in high-demand by consumers looking for the newest technology and those looking for convenience in their daily commute,” said Olive Zhang, vice president of Nielsen China.