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Nearly all of us want a self-driving car, says new survey

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes says Ford could stand to refresh its model lineup, and should invest more in connected vehicles.
Ford Motor Company
A self-driving car being tested at M-City

Nearly 75% of people surveyed by AlixPartners say they'd be interesting in an autonomous, AKA self-driving car.

The number jumps to 90% if the self-driving car includes the option of letting a human take control if deemed necessary.

Mark Wakefield of AlixPartners says he thinks his survey found more interest in self-driving cars because of the way they phrased the questions. The survey provided details about the positives of self-driving cars, in addition to the negatives.

"There's probably a bit too much "scaring" going on (in other surveys)," says Wakefield, "and there isn't a product to actually touch and feel and experience."

More people also think tech companies should develop and provide the software for self-driving cars, rather than automobile companies.  Forty-one percent of people say Silicon Valley would be the preferred provider of autonomous vehicle technology, compared to 36% who say automakers would be better.

Wakefield says autonomous vehicles could erode the image of certain brands more than others. Brands like Toyota and Honda, which have a reputation for reliability and safety, would probably do pretty well if they offered an autonomous vehicle.  But "performance" brands like BMW, which rely heavily on the driving experience as a selling point, could see their images suffer.

*Editor's note: This survey was conducted before yesterday's news that a Tesla driver in Florida was killed while his vehicle was in "autopilot" mode. The National Highway Transportation Safety Board is investigating the death.  

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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