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Nearly all of us want a self-driving car, says new survey

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes says Ford could stand to refresh its model lineup, and should invest more in connected vehicles.
Ford Motor Company
A self-driving car being tested at M-City

Nearly 75% of people surveyed by AlixPartners say they'd be interesting in an autonomous, AKA self-driving car.

The number jumps to 90% if the self-driving car includes the option of letting a human take control if deemed necessary.

Mark Wakefield of AlixPartners says he thinks his survey found more interest in self-driving cars because of the way they phrased the questions. The survey provided details about the positives of self-driving cars, in addition to the negatives.

"There's probably a bit too much "scaring" going on (in other surveys)," says Wakefield, "and there isn't a product to actually touch and feel and experience."

More people also think tech companies should develop and provide the software for self-driving cars, rather than automobile companies.  Forty-one percent of people say Silicon Valley would be the preferred provider of autonomous vehicle technology, compared to 36% who say automakers would be better.

Wakefield says autonomous vehicles could erode the image of certain brands more than others. Brands like Toyota and Honda, which have a reputation for reliability and safety, would probably do pretty well if they offered an autonomous vehicle.  But "performance" brands like BMW, which rely heavily on the driving experience as a selling point, could see their images suffer.

*Editor's note: This survey was conducted before yesterday's news that a Tesla driver in Florida was killed while his vehicle was in "autopilot" mode. The National Highway Transportation Safety Board is investigating the death.  

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