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 today 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 become widely available; the figure is as high as 71pc in the UK, Germany, Austria and Poland and only in Italy does it dip below 60pc (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 25pc in France and the Netherlands and reaching only 29pc in the UK. Interestingly, there is virtually no evidence of greater support for self-driving cars in younger age groups across Europe.
In fact, 18-24 year olds (33%) were no more likely to welcome self-driving cars than 25-34 year olds (36%) and 35-44 year olds (34%).
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 that 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 that 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’s as high as 73pc and the UK, Netherlands, Poland and Austria all top 60pc; an average of 53pc say “driving is about more than simply getting from A to B”, climbing to 66% in Poland, whilst 55pc think driving with family and/or friends can be a “special experience” with the figure higher than 60pc in Spain, Italy, Sweden and Poland.
Comparisons with other activities are also revealing with 37 per cent preferring driving to computer games, 23pc choosing driving compared to a drink in a bar or playing sports, with the latter as high as 37pc in the UK.
In Italy and the UK 9pc prefer driving to having sex – in the latter 12pc of women would rather hit the road as opposed to 6pc of men.