U.S. Study Puts a Price on in-Car Self-Driving Tech, and It's Bearable

Volvo autonomous prototype 1 photo
Photo: Volvo
Carmakers are racing each other to become the first to offer a fully-automated vehicle, and when that box gets checked by one lucky brand, to become the one who sells the best system on the market.
At the moment, though, the regulators are still trying to get their heads around how all this would work from a legal standpoint, so all the efforts of carmakers and other companies from other fields that have gotten involved are confined to laboratories and closed roads testing.

Which isn't to say the laboratories and those closed roads aren't brimming with activity. Make no mistake, the moment the authorities give the green light, you'll be bombarded with vehicles claiming to be your car and your chauffeur, all-in-one. And some might actually hold true to their promise.

But the one question all these companies would like to know the answer too is how much is the public willing to pay for automated technology. A recent survey carried out by Transportation Research on 1,260 American households came up with two numbers.

It would seem that the average U.S. citizen is willing to pay around $3,500 for partial automation and $4,900 for a car that can drive completely by itself. Considering the benefits brought by these technologies (and the fact we're paying over $1,000 for satnav even though our smartphones can do the job), these figures seem to be a little on the weak side.

However, when we said most manufacturers were held back by legal matters, we forgot to mention Tesla who has no problem finding loops around those pesky restrictions. It currently offers the enhanced Autopilot for $5,000 and asks an extra $3,000 for "full self-driving capability." That's over 50 percent more than what the average American says would be an acceptable cost, but then again Tesla does only sell premium vehicles at the moment, so it makes sense.

But at the end of the day, asking people how much they'd be willing to pay for automated driving is like inquiring about house prices on Mars or the cost of a two-way time travel - how can one put a value on something they haven't experienced yet? But even so, it might give manufactures a rough estimate of where they should price their technology when it does eventually hit the shelves.
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About the author: Vlad Mitrache
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"Boy meets car, boy loves car, boy gets journalism degree and starts job writing and editing at a car magazine" - 5/5. (Vlad Mitrache if he was a movie)
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