A new article in the May edition of Transportation Research took up the question of how much, if anything, consumers would pay for autonomous driving capabilities in their vehicles. The survey of 1,260 American households concluded that the average household would be willing to pay $3,500 for partial automation, or $4,900 for full automation.
There was a lot of variance in the data however, as several households said they would pay upwards of $10,000 for full automation, and others said they would not be interested in paying a premium at all for this technology. The research also concludes that because of this large variance in consumer price preferences, there will be plenty of room for vehicle models with varying levels of automation at various price points.
An interesting note is that this research seems to fit Tesla’s pricing rather well. Tesla currently charges $5,000 for “enhanced autopilot”, which the survey would qualify as partial automation, and an additional $3,000 for “full self-driving capability”, which the survey would qualify as full automation. This is a bit higher than the averages in the survey – about 50% more than the average willing household would pay – but considering Tesla is currently selling a premium vehicle and there were many in the dataset who would pay upwards of $10,000 for automated driving capability, their price point seems to be in the general realm it needs to be in for the time being.
While no car is currently capable of full automation, Tesla’s price points seem close to what the average American is willing to pay, especially considering the car they’re currently selling. That said, if Tesla, or other automakers and tech companies, wants to sell automated driving to the masses, they may need to lower their option price points.
It could aslo explain why several companies developing self-driving technology, like Uber, Waymo and even GM, first plan to release the tech under a ride-sharing business model.