When will Americans be comfortable with self-driving cars?

Ipsos Mobility Navigator Global Study reveals new vehicle owners remain steady in their interest in autonomous driving in 2021

The author(s)

  • John Kiser Senior Vice President of Automotive & Mobility
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Detroit, MI, May 20, 2021 - The thought of an autonomous or self-driving vehicle is a somewhat scary concept. Most consumers are not aware of these kinds of cars or don’t think a robot or computer can drive more safely than a human, so why release control of driving duties to the vehicle? At Ipsos, we have been monitoring numerous disruptions to the automotive industry for the last several years, with the interest in and barriers to autonomous driving among the key topics.

Our Ipsos Mobility Navigator Global Study reveals new vehicle owners in US, China, Germany and Brazil remain steady in their interest in autonomous driving in 2021. But, how can we broaden the appeal and interest?


Vehicles today offer more potential interactions for the driver, raising concerns over the level of driver distraction. These worries are becoming a common issue, drivers encounter a distracted driver almost daily. We recently conducted a poll in the U.S. among 1,000 adults in April 2021 and found that today’s drivers believe they encounter a distracted driver in one of every two drives they take.


These U.S. drivers have noticed the following top three distractions while driving, two of which require the driver to have their eyes and attention away from the road, a very dangerous and concerning situation.


As much as we would prefer drivers to stay focused on the task of driving, it would be foolhardy to expect consumers to fully disengage from their smartphones and connected lives while operating their vehicle. So, what can be done to improve this safety and protect drivers from themselves? Today’s automotive technology is aimed at helping consumers deal with the complexity of driving and making it easier and safer to drive. This new technology is often referred to as ADAS, or Advanced Driver Assist Systems.

Most light-duty vehicle accidents in the U.S. are due to human error or driver distraction. In a recent study conducted at Carnegie Mellon University, results suggested the combination of vehicle crash avoidance technologies reduces crash frequency by about 3.5%. The research further estimated that if vehicle crash avoidance technologies were deployed throughout all light-duty vehicles, the crash prevention cost savings could mount to as much as $264 billion, assuming all relevant crashes would then be prevented.

The potential avoidance of accidents has a two-fold benefit, one being the estimated cost savings but more importantly, a potential significant reduction to injuries. However, the issue of the mass adoption of any of these ADAS technologies is centered on awareness and knowledge of the improved safety impacts.

When using multiple ADAS features together (i.e., blind spot detection, lane centering, crash avoidance) this results in the vehicle providing a semi-autonomous driving system. While a fully autonomous vehicle is a scary thought for the average driver, the industry can promote multiple ADAS features working together for a safer, more controlled semi-autonomous experience, paving the way for broader understanding and acceptance of autonomous.

Our Ipsos Mobility Navigator Global study shows that Americans who have experience (ridden or driven) using semi-autonomous indicated a 3x increase in interest in getting a vehicle with an autonomous driving functionality.


Safety has always been an important factor in automotive decision making, but clearly that definition is changing and increasing in importance. With the increased number of distractions within our vehicles, drivers need help to be safer even if they don’t want to admit it. Again, most accidents are human error and occur as a direct result of vehicles being operated by distracted drivers.

A solution to this growing issue is semi-autonomous features and making consumers aware of the clear safety benefits they offer. This will directly correlate to demand and usage of the semi-autonomous functionality.  

We are all aware of and greatly concerned over driver and passenger safety. The focus should be on accident avoidance and improved safety while driving. Auto manufacturers who focus their marketing efforts of ADAS into the core consumer need of “safety” can convince customers to use the functionality of these features at a great level and reduce accidents in the future.

The Ipsos Mobility Navigator will provide further insights through 2021, which automotive insiders can immediately use to capitalize on new consumer behaviors such as electrification perceptions and shared mobility usage.

Look for our next installment when we focus on Electrification in July 2021.

About the Study

For this survey, Ipsos interviewed a total of 6,000 new vehicle owners aged 18-74 in the United States of America n=2,000 and n=1,000 for the following countries: China, Japan, Brazil and Germany.

Data collected are weighted so that each country’s sample composition best reflects the demographic profile of the adult population according to the country’s most recent census data. Data collected are also weighted to give each country an equal weight in the total “global” sample. Online surveys can be taken as representative of the general working age population in Germany, Japan and the United States. Online samples in Brazil and mainland China are more urban, educated, and/or affluent than the general population and the results should be viewed as reflecting the views of a more “connected” population.

Additional data is available through a subscription to the offering. See the link for more information: 2021 Mobility Navigator

For more information on this news release, please contact:

John Kiser
Senior Vice President
U.S., Automotive & Mobility
+1 925 577 3743
[email protected]

About Ipsos

Ipsos is the world’s third largest market research company, present in 90 markets and employing more than 18,000 people.

Our passionately curious research professionals, analysts and scientists have built unique multispecialist capabilities that provide true understanding and powerful insights into the actions, opinions and motivations of citizens, consumers, patients, customers or employees. We serve more than 5000 clients across the world with 75 business solutions.

Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos is listed on the Euronext Paris since July 1st, 1999. The company is part of the SBF 120 and the Mid-60 index and is eligible for the Deferred Settlement Service (SRD).

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The author(s)

  • John Kiser Senior Vice President of Automotive & Mobility