Behind The Wheel

Autonomous vehicles are coming. In fact, to an increasing extent they are already here, says IpsosStrategies in a new study questioning the human need for automobile control by asking: “Is being behind the wheel behind the times?”

Residents of Phoenix see driverless minivans from Google’s Waymo, cruising around town like human intervention is no big thing. But the future of mobility doesn’t just impact our cars. It impacts how we live and how we work, says the report. 

If your job is in auto insurance you’re already thinking about how AVs and potential changes to ownership structures will affect your industry. If you have a snack product for people on-the-go you are likely considering that fewer gas stations will impact sales. Parking garage operators and mechanics see that the writing on the wall is getting bigger. Urban planners are salivating about smart ways to improve our built environment, opines the study report.

Less obvious changes are coming too, says the report. Say you’re an emergency room doctor. In the not-too-distant future an AV might pull up with an unresponsive passenger. The car’s been monitoring her vital signs and provides you with her medical history from an app on her phone. Or, say you’re in retail banking and you no longer get robbed because there’s no way for a would-be thief to have a getaway car. Car chases will be a thing of the past because police will order your AV to pull over and your AV will always comply. 

America is, perhaps uniquely, a car culture, responds the report. Muscle cars and motorcycles came to define freedom in a freedom-obsessed nation. Every facet of our landscape is shaped by the automobile, from the rise of highways and suburbs, to cultural touchstones like the Great American Road Trip. Americans self-identify as “car people,” and most say that their identity is entwined with their transport.

Car Person ?


Very much


Total US









55 +



Source: Ipsos surveys conducted between December 19 and 21, 2017


View of Self-Driving Cars


Some/Very Positive

Some/Very Negative

Total US












Source: Ipsos surveys conducted between December 19 and 21, 2017 among 2,000 adults in the U.S. and between February 23 and 26, 2018 among 1,000 adults in Canada

It is here in this vital market that the autonomous future might be the hardest sell, says the report. Are we ready to move from the driver’s seat to being passengers? Are Americans ready to replace the roar of the engine with the silence of electric vehicles? Can pickup and T-Bird-loving garage tinkerers make the transition to a world where cars are often rendered as driver-free, personality-free pods?

While the gut response from many Americans and Canadians might be a firm “no”, we see glimpses in the data about what could help sway opinion. From economics, to ease of use, to safety, there are features of the future we can all get behind.

As with any change, the autonomous future will come with trade-offs. It will raise questions about safety, pricing, privacy, convenience, freedom and more. The answers are based on several sizable, exclusive global studies of attitudes and opinions, and are not about technology, but rather about the human reaction to it.



1 comment about "Behind The Wheel".
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  1. REX STOCKWELL from GVSU Marketing, October 31, 2018 at 9:43 p.m.

    Needless to say most Americans love the trill and experience of driving their own vehicle. The introduction of atonomous driving in market had a shocking number of opposition towards the new idea.Its going to be interesting to see how things play out. Were moving towards a smaller carbon footprint, but are people willing to comprimise control of their vehicle? 

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