Self-driving cars are accelerating towards consumer acceptance.

According to Roy Morgan Research, 46 per cent of all Australians would travel in a driverless vehicle today. That means 54 per cent of Australians still aren’t ready to entrust their lives to a computer on wheels.

For the first time, a majority of Australian men (51 per cent) would now travel in driverless vehicles. Women are more apprehensive at 41 per cent. A clear majority of millennials (62 per cent) are ready for driverless compared to only 26 per cent of boomers.

Roy Morgan CEO Michele Levine said the data indicates a shift in how Australians view transport going forward.

“Autonomous vehicles have been a reality for almost 10 years and we are all catching up. And many Australians are ready now,” he said.

Investors in the US are ready too. Last week Tesla surpassed Ford and General Motors as the most valued American carmaker, despite the incumbents outperforming Tesla on traditional metrics.

As this chart from Statista illustrates, Tesla’s numbers don’t really match its valuation.

Infographic: The Numbers Behind the 'New Big Three' | Statista

Much like how book publishers, retailers, music vendors and media companies have felt the impact of technology, the automotive industry is facing immense technological disruption, Roy Morgan said. Rising popularity of autonomous vehicles and ride sharing means are driving the Australian automotive industry into a “decade of upheaval.”

The researchers identified 2025 as a tipping point for the industry as a whole as it faces digital disruption. “Any automotive players that fail to plan fully for the future involving increased car-sharing, driverless cars, and purely online sales will find it far too hard to catch up to ‘first-movers’ by the time 2025 rolls around.”

According to Roy Morgan’s State of the Nation Report, car sharing is set to take off in the 2020s in preference to outright ownership of cars as changing attitudes to cars, led by Generation Y, begin to permeate a larger proportion of the population.

But car sharing still has a way to go before it is considered mainstream, 64 per cent of Australians aren’t aware of car-sharing services compared to 36 per cent that are. However over 200,000 already use car-sharing services like Go-Get and Flexi-car. Men (43 per cent) are more likely than women (29 per cent) to know of car-sharing and millennials (35 per cent) are more aware of car-sharing than boomers (26 per cent), according to the research

Currently, one million millennials (18 per cent) have Uber on their phone or tablet and two-thirds have used the Uber app in the last four weeks compared to only 1 per cent of boomers that have downloaded Uber, and only half of those have used Uber in the past four weeks.

Automative e-commerce is growing in popularity as 34 per cent of Australians are ready to buy a car entirely online compared to 66 per cent that aren’t. Men (42 per cent) lead women (25 per cent) and millennials (37 per cent) lead boomers (23 per cent).

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