Consequences of autonomous vehicles: Ambivalent expectations and their impact on acceptance
Connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) are within reach of widespread deployment on public roads, but public perceptions are ambivalent. The objective of the present research was to assess expectations about the consequences of CAV introduction. These expectations should explain CAV acceptance, but their relative importance is poorly understood. We conducted a survey with a representatively drawn panel sample (N = 529) from France, Germany, Italy, and the UK. The survey consisted of a large item pool of expected consequences from CAV introduction, as well as general and affective evaluation of CAVs, ease of use, and behavioral intention to use CAVs. Exploratory factor analysis revealed four facets of expected consequences: road safety, privacy, efficiency and ecological sustainability. On average, expectations were mostly positive for ecological sustainability and safety, but negative for privacy. At the same time, substantial variance existed between respondents and between countries. For safety and efficiency, improvement was expected by a third of respondents, while another third expected worsening. Respondents from Italy expected more positive consequences for safety, while respondents from both France and Germany expected more negative consequences for privacy. To different degrees, all four facets predicted the intention to use CAVs in a structural equation model, primarily via affective evaluations. For policy makers, manufacturers, and service providers, understanding the trade-offs inherent to different CAV solutions will be central to ensure citizens’ needs are respected.