71% of UK drivers say that they still want to drive themselves in an autonomous future
Last week I came across a very interesting press release from Mazda. Mazda research carried out by Ipsos MORI reveals that the joy of driving is alive and well in the UK, with 71% of people surveyed saying they would still want to drive, even with self-driving technology available, whilst only 29% actively welcome the arrival of autonomous vehicles. As far as I’m aware, Mazda is just about the only car manufacturer to have published such research, the others being, presumably, too busy developing their next-generation vehicles and trying to outdo each other in the race towards autonomy.
And it’s not just UK drivers who feel this way. The research polled 11,008 adults across key European markets, including 1,002 in the UK, and reveals that across those countries an average of 66% of drivers wanted to remain in charge behind the wheel even if self-driving cars become widely available. Another interesting aspect of this study shows that it’s not just old fogeys like me who are the reactionaries. The 18-24 year-olds showed no more inclination to embrace autonomy than their older brethren.
Further findings from the research show that 54% of Europeans questioned have been for a drive “just for fun.” How very refreshing it is to learn that the joys of motoring are not of yesteryear, even on congested British roads with average speed limits all over the place. I drive the quickest model produced by my current chosen manufacturer, even though I realise that, with most of my driving being in and around London, the chances of ever using that performance are extremely limited. It’s all about knowing that I can if circumstances allow. Maybe it’s about a desperate attempt to forestall old age; the search for eternal youth.
To me, it seems appropriate that Mazda has been the force behind this research. The company’s MX-5 roadster has long been applauded by motoring journalists as the ultimate, affordable, fun sports car. Indeed, I’ve thought long and hard about acquiring one myself, only to be somewhat deterred by the reaction of my girlfriend, who tells me that I’d look ridiculous behind the wheel of such a car. Why? Is having fun solely the prerogative of the young? Can we not cock a snook at impending dotage? Well done Mazda, I say.
Simon Duval Smith
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