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Europeans agree: in the future we’ll pay more for safer cars

GfK and AutoScout24 surveyed around 8,800 people for the report ‘The Cars We Want Tomorrow’. Drivers aged 18 – 65 in seven European countries (Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain), were surveyed on a wide range of topics, from safety to cost, comfort to the environment, connectivity to design. In this article we look at safety concerns.

When it comes to the cost of getting about by car, Europeans are certainly price-sensitive, but where safety is concerned, they are willing to spend significantly more when buying a vehicle – and this applies across all the groups we surveyed, not just those with higher incomes. A total of 93% consider safety important, 73% saying it’s very important. The country comparison shows Austrians to be the most safety conscious (97%), closely followed by French, Belgians and Spanish (94%).

Four in ten (43%) will pay more for innovations that improve passenger safety, and a similar figure (38%), would pay a higher price for new features that minimize traffic risks to other road users. In terms of actual financial amounts, one in six (17%) would accept a premium of more than 10% for better passenger safety, and one eighth (13%) would spend over 10% more for greater pedestrian safety.

Dr. Michael Hafner is in charge of active driving safety at Mercedes-Benz. He believes this widespread driver acceptance of better safety measures means that technologies introduced in top-of-the-range cars must be incorporated as standard in other vehicle classes to improve safety across the board. He warns that manufacturers can’t make cars with safety functions prohibitively costly. “We have to make the existing systems cheaper” he says. So what do European drivers want in the way of safety measures?

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Passive and active safety measures

82% of those surveyed rated passive danger recognition and active intervention in risky situations as being particularly important safety functions. e-Call also scored highly (also 82%). This is where an automatic emergency call is made in the event of an accident, allowing the nearest emergency service center to assess the situation and act as needed, noting the exact location.

Mercedes-Benz’s Hafner emphasises the importance of active accident prevention in addition to these passive features. Eight in ten (82%) respondents would like the car of the future to have automatic hazard detection and actively intervene in driving to prevent a collision. Demand for this feature is much higher among the over 50s (86% of 50 – 59 year-olds, 84% of 60 – 65 year-olds). “All road users can benefit from driver assistance systems and the added safety they provide, not just older drivers” he adds.

Autopilot increases in popularity when respondents consider safety

Will the car of the future rely more on autopilot? As a general concept, drivers don’t find it very appealing, but when they are given different scenarios, their acceptance and readiness to use it increases significantly. Almost nine in ten (88%) would always, or at least occasionally, activate the autopilot if it meant that driving would be safer. Feeling sick, tired or anxious may also be good reasons for relying on the automatic functions (87%).

Get more insights

There are five articles in this series covering safety, cost, budget, functions and mobility. Read the full study for free at:www.thecarswewanttomorrow.com

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