Buyers willing to pay extra for autonomous driving technology

November 14, 2016

New car buyers are willing to pay a €1,000 premium for basic autonomous features on their cars, according to Nissan.

Carlos Ghosn, the firm’s chief executive officer, says about two-thirds of buyers specify semi-autonomous technology at that price, proving there is a large global market.

The semi-autonomous system, offered as an optional extra at additional cost on the Serena MPV in Japan, can stay centred in a single lane and maintain its distance from vehicles in front by braking and accelerating automatically.

Ghosn told delegates at a conference in Portugal: ‘We offer it as a paid option. When you are offering this free everyone says “yes”. This is not significant. Offer it at a price and see how many people take it and 60% of people buying this car are taking this option. That is very encouraging.’

He added that he expected to see even greater demand for fully-autonomous technology, particularly from drivers who spend their time in urban stop-start traffic. In these conditions, drivers could free-up two hours a day normally spent behind the wheel.

‘The most exciting technology is the combination of connected [cars] and autonomous [driving],’ he told Reuters.

He added: ‘Now the car becomes a mobile space, connected, where you can have a video conference, read a book, study, write a letter – it is a great advantage.’

He predicts fully-autonomous driving on motorways will be launched in 2018 and technology developed for driverless travel in cities will launch from 2020.

Nissan plans to fit semi-autonomous driving technology to the new Qashqai when it goes on sale in 2017, while a number of rivals are also planning to offer self-driving capability in their latest models.

This includes the new version of the best-selling Volkswagen Golf, which goes on sale early in 2017.

It can brake automatically if it detects a pedestrian stepping in front of the car or if the vehicle in front brakes sharply. Adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping technology can steer, brake and accelerate the Golf in traffic jams up to 60km/h.

It is available for all Golf models with a DSG automated gearbox. Prices and specification have yet to be announced but it uses technology already available as standard on some current Golfs.

By contrast, fully-autonomous technology is so complex that a substantial increase in price is likely.

Self-driving technology that Volvo plans to offer in five years will be provided as an optional extra costing at least €10,000, according to chief executive officer Hakan Samuelsson. He said it would be offered as a luxury feature.

This contrasts with rivals such as Ford, which sees the first use of autonomous technology in areas such as taxis and ride-hailing.

Samuelsson said: ‘You still need to have a car that is not just fulfilling the transportation need, but also giving our customers an emotional value, a premium car.’

Autovista Intelligence analyses the future of the market in its new report The Autonomous Car.

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