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Self-driving cars might be coming - but motorists don't want to hand over the keys

Mazda research shows European drivers still want to be behind the wheel.

TWO OUT OF three European drivers want to be able to drive even if self-driving cars become commonplace, according to a major new piece of research launched by Mazda.

At present, Mazda is one of just a few car makers that does not seem to have grand plans to produce autonomous vehicles. However, the research it commissioned does give some indication how motorists feel about self-driving cars.

The Ipsos research – commissioned as part of Mazda’s Drive Together campaign designed to celebrate the joy of driving – polled 11,008 people across different European countries and revealed that an average of 66 per cent of drivers wanted to remain behind the wheel even if self-driving cars become widely available.

The figure is as high as 71 per cent in the UK, Germany, Austria and Poland and only in Italy does it dip below 60 per cent.

The study also found that only 33 per cent of drivers “welcome the advent of self-driving cars” with the number dropping as low as 25 per cent in France and the Netherlands and reaching only 29 per cent in the UK.

Surprisingly, there is little evidence of greater support for self-driving cars in younger age groups with 18-24 year olds (33 per cent) no more likely to welcome self-driving cars than 25-34 year olds (36 per cent) and 35-44 year olds (34 per cent).

Source: Newspress

Further findings from the research show that 54 per cent of those surveyed had been for a drive “just for fun” – in Sweden it’s as high as 73 per cent. An average of 53 per cent say “driving is about more than simply getting from A to B”, whilst 55 per cent think driving with family and/or friends can be a “special experience”.

Speaking about the findings, Mazda Motor Europe’s President and CEO Jeff Guyton said:

As a brand we simply love driving and this research demonstrates very clearly that a huge number of European drivers agree with us – of course, there is a role for self-driving cars but for us, and for many others it seems, there really is nothing quite like the physical pleasure of driving.

The research also showed that an average of 69 per cent of drivers “hope that future generations will continue to have the option to drive cars” and 34 per cent agree driving is in danger of becoming a “forgotten pleasure”.

Guyton continues:

If you look at the car industry in general, we believe that many manufacturers are taking a lot of the pure driving pleasure away from drivers. At Mazda we are fighting against this and it’s clear from the research that there is still a huge percentage of drivers who just want to be behind the wheel.

Comparisons with other activities are also revealing with 37 per cent preferring driving to computer games, 23 per cent choosing driving compared to a drink in a bar or playing sports and in Italy and the UK 9 per cent prefer driving to having sex – in the latter case 12 per cent of women would rather hit the road as opposed to 6 per cent of men. Make of that what you will.

READ: Mercedes-Benz teases new G-Class interior >

READ: Revealed: The 10 safest cars of the year >

About the author:

Melanie May  / http://www.melaniemay.com

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