LYA conducted an online survey among US consumers that included questions providing insight into the level of interest for self-driving or autonomous vehicles in 2016 and the price points where mass-market penetration could potentially be achieved.

The results of our survey support the view that self-driving cars could provide a major market opportunity in the medium term as prices for self-driving cars come down and as the technology matures. This view is further enhanced by the September 19th US government announcement which set out a proactive approach to bring “lifesaving technologies” to enhance road safety in the US1. Government support, coupled with the opportunity for drivers to try out self-driving cars, for example by using Uber self-driving cars when they become more widely available in the coming months and years, could go a long way in persuading consumers to make the jump to buy or lease cars that have autopilot features.

We detail below the answers provided to LYA’s 2016 online survey.

Price points for affordable self-driving cars

The first question asked was “Around what amount of money would an autonomous or self-driving car become affordable”. The answers are provided in Figure 1. A large minority or 38.5% of respondents were willing to pay above $25K USD for a self-driving car, with only 4% willing to pay more than $50K USD.

Figure 1: Around what amount of money would an autonomous or self-driving car become “affordable” to you?

Figure 1: Around what amount of money would an autonomous or self-driving car become

We note that the average price of a new car is reported at $33.7K USD in early 20162. This compares to less than $20K USD for a used car.

The Tesla is a well know vehicle offering an option for Autopilot Convenience Features. The Tesla currently offers 2 models (Model S and Model X), both with starting prices above the $50K USD price point at $53K USD and $85.5K USD respectively.

The optional Autopilot Convenience Features carry an additional cost of $3K USD.

However, the upcoming Tesla Model 3, slated to be available in late 2017, is expected to be priced around $35K, a price point within the affordable range of a fair share of car buyers.

Tesla cars of course offer much more innovations than autopilot features as they are primarily all electric vehicles and thus more expensive as a base model than conventional gasoline vehicles.

Reduced insurance premiums versus the additional cost of self-driving cars

Self-driving cars are touted as being key to reduce a large proportion of car accidents by reducing or eliminating those caused by human errors. This could potentially translate into lower insurance premiums to offset the cost of the new self-driving features in part or in full.

LYA asked respondents their willingness to buy a self- driving car if the added cost could be saved by a corresponding decrease in insurance costs over 3 years. More than 50% of respondents agreed with this affirmation as shown on Figure 2 with 16% even saying that the decrease in insurance premium did not have to over the full incremental cost of the car.

Figure 2: Would you be interested in paying more money for a self-driving car if you received a corresponding decrease in your insurance costs over 3 years?

Figure 1: Around what amount of money would an autonomous or self-driving car become

Are consumers ready to buy a self-driving car in 2016?

Finally, Figure 3 highlights that even if self-driving cars were considered affordable now, only one in six would buy one in 2016. More than half, however, are clearly interested in a self-driving car once the technology is proven which bodes fairly well for future adoption of this technology in the medium term.

Figure 3: Should an autonomous car become affordable, would you consider buying one immediately?

Figure 1: Around what amount of money would an autonomous or self-driving car become

The LYA online survey was conducted in IQ 2016 among 534 respondents US respondents, with a 4.3% margin for error.




[1] US Department of Transportation, Accelerating the Next Revolution of Roadway Safety, September 19, 2016.

[2] Kelly Blue Book Press Release, April 1, 2016.