Automated & Connected

J.D. Power’s consumer confidence index tracks low for automated and electric vehicles

According to J.D. Power’s 2019 Mobility Confidence Index Study, consumers lack confidence in the future of self-driving vehicles and – to a lesser degree – the future of electric vehicles (EVs). On a 100-point scale, the Mobility Confidence Index for self-driving vehicles is 36 and EVs is 55, suggesting that marketing self-driving technology to consumers to build understanding, trust, and acceptance may be an industry-wide challenge on a similar scale of actually developing EVs and automated vehicles.

Sentiment is segmented into three categories: low (0-40), neutral (41-60) and positive (61-100). J.D. Power partnered with global survey software company SurveyMonkey to conduct the study in which 5,749 consumers were polled about self-driving vehicles and 5,270 about battery-electric vehicles.

“Out of the box, these scores are not encouraging,” says Kristin Kolodge, executive director for Driver Interaction & Human Machine Interface Research at J.D. Power. “As automakers head down the developmental road to self-driving vehicles and greater electrification, it's important to know if consumers are on the same road – and headed in the same direction. That doesn't seem to be the case right now. Manufacturers need to learn where consumers are in terms of comprehending and accepting new mobility technologies – and what needs to be done.”


Autonomous vehicles

According to J.D. Power’s Mobility Confidence Index consumers have a low level of confidence about the future of self-driving vehicles. Those polled rated their confidence in riding in a self-driving vehicle at 34 and being on the road with others in a self-driving vehicle at 35. However, the majority – 66 percent – of respondents admitted to having little to no knowledge about self-driving vehicles. Participants of the study who identified as members of “Gen Z,” expresses the most knowledge, while “Boomers” expressed the least. Seventy-one percent of consumers are more likely to purchase or lease a self-driving vehicle if they have a great deal of knowledge, but consideration dips to 25 percent for those who state they know nothing at all about them.


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Tech failures, hacking, and liability were among the top concerns and perception of system safety differed with age and knowledge. Overall, consumers are split on whether self-driving vehicles will improve traffic safety, with those who claimed to have a moderate to high level of knowledge with them believing that automated vehicles would increase road safety.

J.D. Power also polled industry experts on when they thought autonomous vehicles would reach the market. Experts thought that autonomous public transit services will arrive to market in 5-6 years while personal autonomous vehicles will arrive in about 12 years. Consumers predict each mobility option will be available in closer to 10 years. Most industry experts forecast it will be 15 or more years before self-driving vehicles have a retail market share of 10 percent.


Electric vehicles

With an overall score of 55, consumers have a neutral level of confidence about the future of battery-electric vehicles. Attributes scoring lowest include likelihood of purchasing an electric vehicle at 39, reliability of electric compared to gas-powered vehicles at 49, and ability to stay within budget compared to gas, diesel, or hybrid vehicles at 55. Most consumers believe there are positive environmental effects of electric vehicles; however, according to the survey, consumers and industry experts recognize it will be well over a decade before electric vehicles equal gas-powered vehicles in sales volume. Experts predict it will be at least five years until battery-electric vehicles' market share reaches 10%.


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Affordability and trust remain among the top challenges for EV adoption; 64 percent of consumers are concerned about the availability of charging stations, 59 percent are concerned about range, and 68 percent say they have never been in an EV. However, 75 percent of those who have leased or driven an EV say they would consider repurchasing one.


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William Kucinski is content editor at SAE International, Aerospace Products Group in Warrendale, Pa. Previously, he worked as a writer at the NASA Safety Center in Cleveland, Ohio and was responsible for writing the agency’s System Failure Case Studies. His interests include literally anything that has to do with space, past and present military aircraft, and propulsion technology.

Contact him regarding any article or collaboration ideas by e-mail at