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Prime Mover Magazine

Survey shows self-driving vehicle concept is waning in popularity

Results of Eastlink’s recent Victorian Self-Driving Car Survey show that when compared to the previous year fewer motorists want a fully self-driving car.

The survey, which gauged 18,000 motorists, found more motorists want the latest driver assistance features and most wanted a connected car.

No such survey as yet has been conducted of professional heavy vehicle drivers on the topic of autonomous trucks.

The desirability of hybrid power now rivals traditional fossil-fuelled propulsion; and a per-kilometre road use charge concept is more popular than fuel tax.

Said to be the largest survey of its type in the world, EastLink’s self-driving car survey this year, increased its number of participants by 20 per cent.

“This survey shows what Victorian motorists think about self-driving cars, driver assistance technologies, vehicle connectivity, electric power and road use charging – technologies which are expected to converge in cars of the future,” said EastLink Corporate Affairs and Marketing Manager, Doug Spencer-Roy.

While fewer motorists want a fully self-driving car, more motorists want and indeed use the latest semi-automated driver assistance features like lane departure warning, lane keeping assistance, adaptive cruise control and autonomous emergency braking.

All of these features are now available on a growing number of new trucks which suggests truck drivers as well as car drivers are embracing the new technology designed to enhance safety on the roads.

“This is great news, as the latest driver assistance features deliver many safety benefits and they are increasingly available in family cars," said Spencer-Roy.

"Widespread adoption of these features will make roads safer,” he said. 

“These results support EastLink’s expectation that semi-automated driver assistance features will become commonplace well before fully autonomous vehicles.”
Compared to last year, demand for connected car features is largely unchanged. A clear majority of motorists still “definitely want” their next car to be connected to a data network for traffic warnings, road condition warnings and vehicle security features.

“This demonstrates the importance of EastLink’s trials of 5.9GHz infrastructure to vehicle communications, which started this year," said Spencer-Roy.

"A major focus of these trials is the delivery of information about road and traffic conditions to the vehicle for presentation to the driver during the journey, to better inform the driver about the road ahead."

Meanwhile, the desirability of hybrid and fully electric cars has increased further, with hybrid power now rivalling traditional internal combustion power.

Should Australia set a date for the end of sales of traditional petrol and diesel cars?

“This has already been done in countries such as the UK, France, Norway and China,” said Spencer-Roy.

"Policy certainty would, we believe, help industries plan for the future.”

Another important point relating to the increasing use of hybrid and electric vehicles is that a fuel tax is irrelevant for vehicles that don’t use petroleum fuel.

As a result, there are more motorists who think it’s unfair that electric vehicles avoid fuel tax compared to those who think it’s fair.

More motorists think fuel tax should be replaced by a per-kilometre road use charge compared to those who prefer the status quo. And the majority of motorists think any future road use charge should provide a discount for electric vehicles to encourage take-up.

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