Autonomous Vehicles: An Empirical Assessment of Consumers’ Perceptions, Intended Adoption, and Impacts on Household Vehicle Ownership
Emerging automotive and transportation technologies have provided revolutionary possibilities in the way we might travel in the future. Major car manufacturers and technology giants have demonstrated significant progress in advancing and testing autonomous vehicles in real-life traffic conditions. Governmental agencies are grappling with how to plan transportation systems for a world with autonomous vehicles. Past research has shown that not all technologies are immediately welcomed by the public. Autonomous Vehicles would have to likely go through a similar phase and would need to overcome not just technological challenges but also social barriers for successful penetration into the marketplace. Most previous studies on consumer opinions and potential adoption of these technologies provide only descriptive, univariate analyses that fail to extract deeper insights into consumers’ perceptions and their intended adoption of autonomous vehicles.
Multi-population surveys were conducted to obtain data on consumers’ perceptions, their intended adoption, and eventual use of autonomous vehicles. Descriptive results revealed that around one-fifth of the respondents were unfamiliar about this technology, with larger shares of the younger generations expressing unfamiliarity. Questions on intended adoption of autonomous vehicles were asked across two stages of the survey and results revealed the merit of providing information to the recipients which seem to have assisted them in making more informed decisions about their intended adoption (or non-adoption process). 40% of the respondents were unlikely to adopt autonomous vehicles with a further 20% being unsure, presently. When analyzed across generations, it was seen that higher shares of older generations were unlikely to adopt autonomous vehicles than their younger counterparts. In addition to adoption, other interesting insights on the use of autonomous vehicles, and travel behavioral implications of autonomous vehicles were also obtained in this analysis.
Considering the vast market potential of this technology, it is important to obtain insights on possible differences in adoption (or non-adoption) across various consumer market segments. The current dissertation fills these gaps in the literature by providing an in-depth understanding of the potential market segments of autonomous vehicle consumers and revealing the factors influencing their adoption (or non-adoption of autonomous vehicles). Two-step cluster analysis of consumers’ perceptions of potential benefits and concerns with autonomous vehicles reveal four distinct consumer market segments – the benefits-dominated market segment, the concerns-dominated market segment, the uncertain market segment, and the well-informed market segment. The insights obtained are further used to uncover various triggers influencing the adoption (or non-adoption) of autonomous vehicles across these market segments. It can be seen that in addition to the influence of sociodemographics, various other factors such as current travel characteristics, crash history, and current vehicle purchase inventory have significant influences in the adoption process across each market segment. The results from this exercise provide autonomous vehicle stakeholders with a more in-depth understanding of the potential market segments interested (or uninterested) in adopting autonomous vehicles, which could be used to develop enhanced marketing and policy initiatives to achieve better outcomes.
Considering the high initial cost of autonomous vehicles, novel business models like shared autonomous vehicles (SAVs), could emerge as possible alternatives to individually owning, and operating autonomous vehicles. The recent emergence of popular rideshare giants, such as Uber and Lyft, into the SAV market, have further brought some discussion on possible alterations to household vehicle ownership models in a shared environment. Previous research simulating SAV fleets in a gridded city network reveals the cost benefits of having shared autonomous vehicles in comparison to owning and individually operating them. This study looks into the implications of shared autonomous vehicles on current household vehicle ownership and uncovers the factors influencing the relinquishment of a household vehicle to use shared autonomous vehicles for commute trips. Results show that the effect of relinquishing household vehicles is different among single- and multi-vehicle households with different triggers such as socio-demographics, current travel characteristics, crash severities, and vehicle purchase histories influencing the relinquishment of household vehicles.
Full Doctoral Dissertation: Open Access Link
Doctoral Oral Defense: May 30, 2017. Presentation Link