New Altermotiv report sheds light on the future of self-driving cars

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Welcome to Altermotiv – a unique collaboration between five Omnicom agencies with a stake in the future of mobility. This report is our attempt to test the theory that we’re emotionally unprepared for automation – and that brands need to work harder to help us understand the benefits. We’re putting people back at that heart of the mobility story.

The reality is that automation is coming and soon that change will come to that most personal of experiences – driving. “There is big psychological barrier for people to hand over complete control of driving their vehicle and I think that it will take many, many years for people to really become comfortable with it, if they become comfortable at all”, summarised Nic Thomas, Global Director of Electric Vehicles at Nissan. A recent US survey by Pew* supported his view – identifying that over half of Americans today would not even get into a driverless vehicle. With all the current conversations apparently putting the lidar or the legislature at the centre of the futuregazing, we asked ourselves: what if we put the customer at the heart of the question? What could we find out about the human questions at the heart of autonomy, and what might we learn about what a brand-builder needs to do today to be in with a chance of winning tomorrow?

To answer our question, we did four things:

  1. We spent two months with a diverse group of 400 consumers from across the UK on an online insight community to explore what automation means to them.
  2. We talked to industry leaders ranging from manufacturers (McLaren, Volkswagen, Nissan), to computing behemoths (Intel), insurers (Direct Line Group), start-ups (Navmii, 5AI), venture capitalists (B4Motion, Talis Capital), public bodies (TLR, IRU), city planners (HOK), and automotive specialists (AMCI, Code).
  3. We surveyed 250 national representative UK consumers to validate findings.
  4. We pooled the knowledge of 5 agencies in disciplines as diverse as brand experience, PR, research, digital planning, and consumer trends.

So what did we find out? What became immediately clear is that there is no assumption in consumers’ minds that current auto brands will inherit the future of mobility. Nor will tech brands. From a brand permission point-of-view, it’s a fair fight. We found key themes that highlight what automation truly means to consumers.

Click here to download the full report.

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