Autonomous Cars, mazda, Motoring News, road safety, vehicle technology

Driverless cars? See what REAL drivers think about prospect

  • Autonomous? Cool, but drivers still want to drive
  • 71% of UK folk want to pilot cars themselves
  • Connection of car/driver ‘the heart of all Mazdas’
TRUE DRIVING FREEDOM: Driving might be a chore for some but for the rest of us it's a skill that makes negotiating a pass such as this (we think it's the Stelvio in Italy?) a supreme pleasure. Image: Mazda UK / Newspress
TRUE DRIVING FREEDOM: Driving might be a chore for some but for the rest of us it’s a skill that makes negotiating a pass such as this (we think it’s the Stelvio in Italy?) a supreme pleasure. Image: Mazda UK / Newspress

LONDON, England – It seems the joy of driving is alive ‘n well in the UK with 71% of people surveyed saying they will still want to drive despite the coming wave of autonomous vehicles.

The rest said they would welcome the arrival of the new technology.

The survey, sponsored by Mazda and done by Ipsos MORI across 11 countries in Europe (see technical note at feature’s end), believes people want to maintain driving as a skill – “an activity that can be fun as well as functional” – into future generations.

‘DRIVE TOGETHER’ CAMPAIGN

Mazda’s view is that autonomous driving tech should act as a co-pilot to avoid collisions but with the driver still in control of the driving “enjoying the pure exhilaration of driving and the freedom it represents to be experienced by our customers”.

The research, part of a Mazda ‘Drive Together’ campaign, polled 11 008 adults across key European markets and showed that, across those countries, an average of 66% of drivers wanted to remain behind the wheel even if self-driving cars were widely available.

TRUE DRIVING FREEDOM: Driving might be a chore for some but for the rest of us it's a skill that makes negotiating a pass such as this (we think it's the Stelvio in Italy?) a supreme pleasure. Image: Mazda UK / Newspress
FUN IN THE TUNNELS: Hardly the point, but will an autonomous car remember to wind down the driver’s window and rev the engine going into Europe’s many tunnels just to hear the echo of a fine machine? Image: Mazda UK / Newspress

“Interestingly,” Mazda reported, “there is no evidence of greater support for autonomy among younger age groups – 18 to 24-year-olds (33%) were no more likely to welcome self-driving cars than 25 to 34-year-olds (36%) or 35 to 44-year- olds (34%).”

The research also revealed significant emotional connection between car and driver: 70% of UK drivers “hope future generations will continue to have the option to drive”. About 62% had driven “just for fun” and 81% of those who enjoy driving it was “because it gives me independence”.

‘BRITISH DRIVERS STILL LOVE DRIVING’

About 55% reported that driving was about much more than just getting from A to B and 39% agreed driving was “in danger of becoming a forgotten pleasure”.
Mazda UK’s managing director Jeremy Thomson said:

“It’s heartening that so many British drivers still love driving. Sure, self-driving cars are coming and will have a role to play, but for Mazda there is nothing quite like the physical pleasure of driving… the quickening of the pulse, the racing of the heart, the open road, the special moments to treasure and share.

“At Mazda we believe in putting the driver at the heart of everything we do and our current ‘Drive Together’ campaign focuses on the bond between car and driver.
“We call it Jinba Ittai – a Japanese phrase describing the perfect harmony between horse and rider. This humancentric philosophy underpins our business and helps us to create cars that bring driver and car closer together.”

READ MORE Carman’s Corner autonomous driving features

Thomson said the car industry in general was taking a lot of driving pleasure away from drivers. Mazda, however, was “fighting against this – it’s clear from the research that there’s still a huge percentage of people who want to be behind the wheel”.

In a world that questioned driving and devalued cars’ role through technological changes Mazda would maintain the love of driving.

Thomson added: “Our aim is a motorised society free of traffic collisions and we will help to achieve this by continuing to advance safety fundamentals – driving position, pedal layout, visibility and active driving displays.

“We will continuously develop, update and make standard our advanced safety features. We aim to make the Mazda Co-Pilot Concept, which uses autonomous driving technologies to allow drivers to enjoy driving with peace of mind, standard by 2025.”

MANY FOLK DRIVE ‘JUST FOR FUN’

Further findings from the survey showed 54% of Europeans questioned had been for a drive “just for fun” and 55% agreed driving with family or friends could be a “special experience”.

In Spain, Italy, Sweden and Poland this figure was more than six in 10 drivers.
Comparisons with other activities were also revealing – 37% preferried driving for fun to computer games, 23% chose driving over a time in a bar or playing sport – that last as high as 37% in the UK.

Technical note: Data from consumer research conducted by Ipsos MORI based on an online survey among 11 008 adults across 11 European markets with a minimum of 1000 surveys in each conducted between September 7 and 22 2017. Data weighted to the known population proportions of adults in each country by age, gender and home region.

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