One in four Brits would sign up to a driverless car membership scheme, survey finds

With the phenomenon of the semi-autonomous vehicle steadily growing in popularity, a new survey has found that a quarter of UK citizens would sell their vehicle in favour of signing up to a driverless car subscription.

Look, no hands: 34% of 18 to 24-year-olds would join a driverless car membership scheme, but just 18% of 35 to 44-year-olds would be receptive to the idea. Photo: Volvo

Look, no hands: 34% of 18 to 24-year-olds would join a driverless car membership scheme, but just 18% of 35 to 44-year-olds would be receptive to the idea. Photo: Volvo

Research carried out by used car specialist HPL Motors found that 24% of people would entertain the notion of immediately joining a pay-as-you-go service – a decade before fully-autonomous cars are expected to hit the roads.

Younger people are seemingly most likely to embrace the driverless car concept, with 34% of 18 to 24-year-olds stating that they would join a driverless car membership scheme. However, the survey found that only 18% of 35 to 44-year-olds would be receptive to the idea.

Commenting on the findings, HPL Motors managing director Jonathan Herman said: “It’s hard to argue that driverless cars won’t be the biggest disruptor that the motoring industry has ever encountered. We’re already seeing an upturn in the popularity of convenient car share schemes and the emergence of autonomous cars could completely overhaul the way we get from A to B."

Disruptive models

The ongoing development of driverless car technology looks set to revolutionise the automotive sector, in a move which could see the industry provide customers with a service-type offer rather than a product. 

Speaking at the recent Business and Climate Change Summit in London, BT’s sustainability chief Niall Dunne explained how the rise of disruptive electric vehicle (EV) giant Tesla serves to highlight the huge potential of carmakers and ICT providers to collaborate to create fully-customisable vehicles that offer a personalised customer experience.

Meanwhile, Tesla’s UK and Ireland country director Georg Ell reiterated the potential shift towards convenience and customisation within the EV space; claiming that car clubs would soon be a thing of the past, driven out of the market by customisable EVs that can autonomously drive directly to their owners.

Automonous automotives

With Tesla establishing its vehicles as a mainstream option in the vehicle market – as highlighted by the record sales of its new Model 3 – already established automotive companies are turning to autonomous features to carve out a niche in a swelling market.

Swedish car manufacturer Volvo Cars, for example, has revealed it will be trialling an ambitious autonomous driving (AD) system in the UK next year, representing the "largest and most extensive AD testing programme on Britain's streets".

Nissan recently unveiled what it believes is “the future of autonomous driving and zero emissions”. By 2020, Nissan expects to see the autonomous aspect of its vehicles to be deployed worldwide. The company has also revealed that its Qashqai model – under investigation in South Korea for alleged emissions fraud – will be the first model to utilise autonomous technology in the UK.

And the autonomous car's rise in popularity has not been isolated to the automotive industry. Heathrow Airport recently announced a partnership to engineer new zero-carbon, fully autonomous, battery-operated carrier pods to act as shuttles around the streets of Greenwich.

George Ogleby


technology | Innovation | electric car | electric vehicles


Technology & innovation
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