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.
The Ipsos research, which was commissioned as part of Mazda’s Drive Together campaign designed to celebrate the joy of driving, polled 11,008 people across key European markets.
It revealed that an average of 66 per cent of drivers wanted to remain behind the wheel even if self-driving cars became widely available; the figure was as high as 71 per cent in Britain, Germany, Austria and Poland, and only in Italy did it dip below 60 per cent (59 ).
Coupled with this, 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 Britain. Interestingly, there was virtually no evidence of greater support for self-driving cars in younger age groups across Europe. In fact, 18-24 year olds (33 per cent ) were no more likely to welcome self-driving cars than 25-34 year olds (36 per cent ) and 35-44 year olds (34 per cent ).
The research also reveals a significant emotional connection between car and driver as demonstrated by the following statistics: an average of 69 per cent of drivers “hope future generations will continue to have the option to drive cars” – the figure is as high as 74 per cent in Poland and 70 per cent or higher in the UK, Germany, France and Sweden.
In addition, 36 per cent of those who enjoy driving see their car and the act of driving as an “extension of my personality” with the number rising to 56 per cent in Poland and 46 per cent in Italy. And 34 per cent agree driving is in danger of becoming a “forgotten pleasure” – in France, Italy and Poland the figure is 40 per cent or higher.
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.
“This is why at Mazda we believe in putting the driver at the heart of everything we do and it’s why our current Drive Together campaign focuses on the bond between car and driver. We call this Jinba Ittai, which is the Japanese phrase used to describe the perfect harmony between the mounted archer and his horse. It is this human-centric philosophy that underpins our business and helps us create cars that bring the driver and their car closer together.
“If you look at the car industry in general, we believe 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. In a world that questions the act of driving and devalues the role of the car and the role of the driver through technological changes, we will continue to challenge convention for the love of driving.”
Further findings from the research show that 54 per cent of Europeans have been for a drive “just for fun” – in Sweden it is as high as 73 per cent and Britain, Netherlands, Poland and Austria all top 60 per cent. An average of 53 per cent say “driving is about more than simply getting from A to B”, climbing to 66 per cent in Poland, while 55 per cent think driving with family and/or friends can be a “special experience” with the figure higher than 60 per cent in Spain, Italy, Sweden and Poland.
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, with the latter as high as 37 per cent in Britain.
In Italy and the UK nine per cent prefer driving to having sex – in the latter 12 per cent of women would rather hit the road as opposed to six per cent of men.