Older Drivers Aren’t as Ready to Trust Self-Driving Cars as Young People: J.D. Power

Older Drivers Aren’t as Ready to Trust Self-Driving Cars as Young People: J.D. Power

J.D. Power just released the results of its second-annual 2016 Tech Choice Study, showing clear generational divides in areas of driver-assistance systems, entertainment features and alternative-mobility solutions.

2016 J.D. Power Tech Choice Study

This survey focuses on awareness, interest and price sensitivity regarding advanced automotive technologies, things like backup cameras, smart parking systems and traffic-jam assist, to name but a few of the more-than 40 features it covered.

The big news in this year’s Tech Choice Study is the market traction advanced driver-assistance systems are starting to gain. “We saw very widespread interest in what we call automation-gateway technologies,” said Kristin Kolodge while speaking at an Automotive Press Association luncheon in Detroit. She’s the executive director of driver interaction and HMI at J.D. Power.


Items that attracted the most attention are features that pave the way to full-autonomous vehicles. To function, these things require cutting-edge hardware like optical cameras along with radar and lidar sensors.

Today’s Hot Technologies

Crash-avoidance systems proved to be very sought after in this year’s study. Kolodge said, “These have a very strong appeal to consumers.”

Among all age groups, camera-based rear-view mirrors were the most popular available feature, followed by smart headlights, night vision, electronically tinting windows and self-healing paint. However, when the fair-market prices of various technologies were revealed, respondents changed their choices dramatically.

SEE ALSO: V2V Communication a Breakthrough Technology

After the cost of each item was shown, economy navigation became the most sought-after thing, followed by simple wireless device connectivity, camera-based rear-view mirrors, smart parking and finally predictive-traffic systems.


Interestingly, night vision was the second most-popular feature before pricing was revealed, with 70 percent of participants saying they “definitely would” or “probably would” want the technology in their next vehicle. But when the estimated cost of $2,000 was revealed it plummeted to 23rd position. Clearly today’s drivers are very price-sensitive.

Some of the least-popular features from the 2016 Tech Choice Study include trailer connect assist and other tow-aid systems, along with full vehicular autonomy. The lack of interest in these systems is likely due to their somewhat-specific use cases, in short, they don’t appeal to or meet the needs of many drivers.

Generational Divide

Not surprisingly, there were some significant generational disparities in this year’s survey. The biggest differences surfaced on the subject of alternative mobility solutions.

Baby boomers and pre-boomers alike are suspicious of things like ride-sharing services including Uber or Lift, demand-based vehicle usage and other burgeoning alternative-transportation options. Scheduling freedom and financial security were two main reasons for their lack of interest; they want total freedom to go wherever they want, whenever they desire, plus they’re well-off enough that they can afford their own vehicles.

In contrast, Generations Y and Z are the most likely to take advantage of services like this, with more than 40 percent of respondents saying they “definitely would” or “probably would.” Only around 10 percent of boomers would do the same.


Likewise, youthful drivers are five times more likely to trust autonomous technology than more gray-haired individuals. But still, older motorists may well take to self-driving cars in future years. “Trust comes about with time and exposure,” said Kolodge. As advanced driver-assistance systems become more widespread, “That is going to help increase that level of trust.”

SEE ALSO: Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems Ready for Takeoff

But there was one area where both young and old agreed. Koldoge said, “This concern around the technology security … this was very universal.” People are concerned about hackers and privacy. Clearly, the fear of getting your vehicle hijacked is real.

The 2016 J.D. Power Tech Choice Study surveyed nearly 8,000 American drivers. It was conducted between February 10 and March 10 of this year and covers vehicles that were sold between the model years 2012 and 2016. It included people that reside across the United States, with a good mix of urbanites and folks that live in rural areas, for a broad cross-section of the population.

Check out our Tips and Advice Section.

  • smartacus

    self-driving will make that love scene in The Chase a lot easier to emulate ;p

  • Bug S Bunny

    As a boomer and to me personally, it’s not a matter of trusting self-driving technology so much as actually enjoying the art of driving. Is there anything wrong with that? I understand that many people see it as a chore; I’m not one of those people.