Old, Dumb, Low-Earners Most Anti AVs, Says Audi

Asia, the young and high earners are among the most receptive of driverless technology.

At the same time, the poorly educated low earners of ‘the West’ remain suspicious, an Audi study has revealed. Research of 21,000 respondents on three continents suggests how distinct sets of user types view autonomous technology depending on their lifestyles. The study is part of the rather pompously named “&Audi” initiative from the automaker who, by the way, in this statement describes itself as a “mobility company”.

It claims the study shows young, high-earning and well-educated “status-oriented trendsetters” and “tech-savvy passengers” most look forward to autonomous driving. However, the study labels the aging, low-earning and poorly educated respondents as being the “suspicious drivers” of autonomous technology.

It has to be said that some cynics would question the study’s impartiality on that statement alone. That’s because several automakers have clear financial imperatives invested in promoting the technology and could be ‘playing to the gallery’ of the young high earners from which they see the early-adopter revenue streams.

Audi claims to have been studying the social acceptance of autonomous driving for some four years and says its latest results show acceptance is threefold, consisting of an emotional landscape, a human readiness index and a user profile expressed in a human readiness index (HRI). Chinese respondents are “euphoric” at HRI +5.1 and South Koreans scored HRI +1.2 in their positive view of the technology. In Europe the Spanish and Italians lead the field, both with HRI +0.7. Germans and French are relatively reserved, with HRI -0.7, as are the Americans, Japanese and British who all scored HRI -0.9.

Thomas Müller, head of automated driving at Audi, said: “Automated and autonomous driving has the potential to improve our mobility substantially. On the way there, alongside technical development, it is of decisive importance to convince people. The study provides us with differentiated insights about where people stand in relation to autonomous driving and how we can establish suitable expectations about the new technology in society.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in London. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_


  1. Avatar V Uil 1st October 2019 @ 8:23 pm

    What a patronizing headline. The whole thing drips of arrogance or are the dumb now fair game? Imagine instead of ‘dumb’ you had ‘black’ or ‘gay’ or some other grouping used as a pejorative.
    I mean let’s face it cars are pretty low brow things. Perhaps you are one of the people the headline is talking about Paul.
    P.S. I have a PhD in statistics and work in AI consulting to one of the large car manufacturers in the US. Pretty sure I’d find you dumb Paul.

  2. TU-Editor TU-Editor 2nd October 2019 @ 6:50 am

    We’ve used those comments of yours that we could but you address the editing of the article and not the content itself. Some could argue the industry is falling into the habit of using negative imagery to market the technology to a younger, aspirational audience.
    At the same time, it’s clear some of the ‘new wave’ of technicians entering the industry have lost sight of their core consumer who remains emotionally involved with “pretty low brow things”.

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