Nearly two-thirds of adults in France are aware of autonomous vehicles. But cars represent a sense of freedom, and most adults in France really enjoy driving. So self-driving cars have little appeal at the moment, according to research.
France is home to several iconic automobile brands, including Renault and Citroën, and equally iconic car races, including the 24-hour Le Mans classic. The Paris Auto Show is still a big feature of the autumn calendar.
So how do consumers in France feel about recent automotive innovations, such as self-driving cars and car-sharing?
Most like being the ones behind the wheel, according to data from Mondial de l’Automobile. Of the 1,008 internet users interviewed by OpinionWay Research in June 2016, 88% said a car journey was often, or always, synonymous with the freedom of travel, and 65% said they equated it with the pleasure of driving. And they feel about the opposite about self-driving cars. For example, while 58% of internet users in France said they either somewhat agreed or completely agreed that self-driving cars give them more free time, almost half of respondents somewhat disagreed or completely disagreed. Similarly, 54% of internet users said they somewhat agreed, or completely agreed, that self-driving cars are more secure, but 45% somewhat disagreed, or completely disagreed.
Of those respondents who owned a car and kept it at their home, 73% said they wouldn’t like to give it up, and 75% said they couldn’t do without it. An even higher percentage (78%) said they preferred to own their own car—rather than renting, for example—and 64% said they preferred actively driving the car they were in; just 23% said they would prefer a self-drive vehicle.
Similar views emerged from separate research from TNS Infratest. Some 91% of the adults surveyed in May 2016 had a driving license. While 63% of respondents—and 76% of those ages 18 to 24—were aware of self-driving cars, and six in 10 recognized these cars as a form of progress, 75% said they also associated autonomous cars with losing the pleasure of driving. Almost as many, 72%, thought self-driving cars wouldn’t be a significant commercial reality in France for at least 20 years.
Car-sharing got a cautious thumbs-up from the Mondial sample. Three in five adults (61%) said they thought of car-sharing chiefly as a good way to save money. But 38% said it was a source of stress, because they didn’t know the driver or whether they could drive well.
Among the web users polled by TNS, sharing a car was arguably less popular. Seven in 10 said they would prefer to take a long road trip in their own car, compared with 19% who preferred sharing. A large majority also favored using their own vehicle for a short trip to the city or the countryside; just 8% said they would choose car-sharing for such journeys.