SA road users embracing technology 'but are wary of self-driving cars'

06 January 2020 - 15:07
By STAFF REPORTER
Self-driving cars are not expected to catch on in SA any time soon, says an expert.
Image: REUTERS/YUYA SHINO Self-driving cars are not expected to catch on in SA any time soon, says an expert.

South Africans prefer to own their own vehicles, are sceptical of overseas trends like carpooling and are happy to pay for apps that make their time on the road quicker and safer.

This is according to the latest Deloitte Global Automotive Consumer Study.

The country's constrained economy was evident in the finding that "South African consumers are looking for practicality and 67% said they would consider a model that offers more utility, compared to 26% who would likely favour more luxury".

In addition, second-hand cars are in demand.

“South Africans still place a high value on owning their own cars and purchasing a car is also still very much a rite of passage for most South Africans. However, we have in recent years seen more and more consumers opting for used cars instead of new cars,” said Deloitte Africa Automotive monitor Adheesh Ori.

SA motorists are interested in innovative mobility services and are willing to pay for technology, despite having some concerns.

"Consumer concerns around connected vehicles include vehicle hacking and vehicle location data being collected," said Deloitte, adding that more than half of consumers are also worried about the privacy of their personal data, particularly related to app usage and the collection of biometric data.

"Regardless, they are interested in updates on traffic congestion in particular. More than 80% of consumers are also interested in safer travel routes, updates on road safety and vehicle maintenance reporting," the study found. "Most are willing to pay for connected technologies. Around half would prefer to pay for a monthly subscription service or on a per-use basis."

More than half of the consumers surveyed also indicated they were interested in subscription services for selecting multiple vehicles and those that offer unlimited e-hailing services. However, people were less interested in e-hailing services than in previous years: average usage has shifted from regular to occasional, as well as from business to leisure, the study showed.

One-third of e-hailing service users surveyed said they were considering giving up vehicle ownership - a slight decrease from 2017, when 36% said this.

Little interest was shown in carpooling. The survey revealed that less than a third of consumers are currently interested in carpooling services. Reasons cited for this included safety concerns, lengthier trips and not wanting to share a small space with strangers.

“In first-world countries, carpooling is an easy way to earn an extra income, but South Africans don’t yet look at their vehicles as depreciating assets that could provide an additional revenue stream,” said Ori.

“There are, however, a small number of mobility companies operating in our ecosystem at present and we can expect to see more emerging over the course of the next six months or so."

The study noted that among SA consumers, the advent of self-driving vehicles is still far off. Very few people among those surveyed had experienced an autonomous vehicle (AV) first-hand, although 78% said they were "somewhat interested" in giving it a try.

Many said they remained "somewhat apprehensive" of AVs, with more than half of consumers saying they were worried about driving or walking in an area where fully autonomous vehicles were in operation. A vast majority called for government oversight of AVs.

“AVs are currently being piloted all around the world, but here in South Africa it’ll likely still be some time before they become mainstream,” said Ori.