Future cars by Google and Apple are especially interesting to millennials and BRIC consumers.
Technology brands are dipping their toes into the auto industry, but do consumers trust brands best known for producing smartphones and lines of code to keep them safe on the road? If these cars went on sale soon, would anyone buy them?
Such questions have become more pressing in recent months. Following Google’s September hiring of Hyundai Motor America CEO John Krafcik to lead its self-driving car program, observers have wondered whether the cars are closer to market than previously anticipated. And a recent high-level meeting of British automakers made a place at the table for Apple’s design chief Sir Jonathan Ive.
It may not be surprising, but the news that millennials are especially keen on tech-branded cars comes as yet another headache to traditional auto companies hoping to reach them. A September 2015 study by consultancy Capgemini found that 65% of millennials (18–34) were willing to switch from their current brands to cars built by technology companies such as Google and Apple, compared to 49% of gen Xers (35–49) and 26% of boomers (50+).
The same study also found that respondents in emerging economies were much more willing to switch to a tech brand than respondents in developed countries. Majorities said they would switch in India (81%), China (74%) and Brazil (63%), while fewer consumers were interested in Germany (32%), the US (29%) and the UK (28%).
The survey also found higher levels of interest and trust in autonomous cars in India and China. Most Indians surveyed said they were interested in (74%) and trusted (70%) self-driving cars, trailed closely by Chinese respondents (73% and 65%, respectively). Western respondents were much more skeptical.
The numbers suggest that millennials and emerging-market consumers are particularly open to trusting tech-branded cars. As China’s Baidu plans to roll out semi-autonomous cars later in 2015 and India becomes the “next big frontier” for Silicon Valley, Asia could be particularly fertile ground for technology companies seeking to pivot into the automotive space.