Boomers balk at autonomous vehicles, even though they will help them the most

swanson
© Google/ Their oldest passenger, 94 year old Florence Swanson

On Bloomberg, Dana Hull writes about how autonomous self-driving cars (AVs) will be the saviours of seniors in the suburbs (where 79 percent of them live).

“For the first time in history, older people are going to be the lifestyle leaders of a new technology,” said Joseph Coughlin, director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s AgeLab in Cambridge. “Younger people may have had smartphones in their hands first, but it’s the 50-plus consumers who will be first with smart cars.”

Coughlin is confident that they will be happy to use them, given the alternative of being trapped in their houses. Jane Gould of Aging in Suburbia says the same thing:

Polls show that even today, there is a surprising level of interest in the self-driving car among older people. Autonomous cars will find a ready market with Baby Boomers as they grow older or frail. In contrast to other types of innovation, it is the disenfranchised- in this case, those who cannot or should not drive, who could be innovation pioneers.

However according to a recent J.D. Power survey, they don't really want to think about this and don't really like the idea.

choices© JD Power

When it comes to making the leap to fully automated cars, trust in the technology is directly linked to the age of the consumer. More than half of Gen Y (56%) and Gen Z (55%) vehicle owners say they trust self-driving technology, compared with 41% of Gen X, 23% of Baby Boomers and 18% of Pre-Boomers. Further, only 27% of Gen X, 18% of Gen Y and 11% of Gen Z consumers say they “definitely would not” trust the technology, while 39% of Baby Boomers and 40% of Pre-Boomers say the same.

This will probably change as the boomers age and start hanging up their keys. In fact, Jim Motavalli pointed out on MNN that Seniors, not hipsters, will get self-driving cars first.

And as CNET's Andrew Krok noted in his otherwise silly article with the brilliant title Old man yells at iCloud: J.D. Power study finds aging buyers don't trust autonomy, "To be fair, being thrust head-first into new technology and being asked to immediately accept it is not easy for anyone."

Tags: Green Boomer | Self-driving car

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