Autonomous driving good for economy: report

Nissan-commisioned report reveals economic and social opportunities

Published: November 30, 2016, 5:30 PM
Updated: November 21, 2021, 3:21 PM

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A Nissan-commissioned study has revealed another benefit to autonomous driving — economic impact.

Freeing the Road: Shaping the future for Autonomous Vehicles, an independent report by London-based Policy Network (a left-leaning international think-tank and research institute) commissioned by Nissan Europe, reveals economic and social opportunities of the new car technologies, as well as highlighting steps governments and regulators should take to overcome the challenges of bringing them to market.

The economic analysis, commissioned by Nissan Europe, focused on Germany, Spain and the UK but said the European region as a whole would begin to add 0.15% to the continent’s annual growth rate, predicting the European gross domestic product would cumulatively increase by 5.3% by 2050, with autonomous vehicles contributing €17 trillion (over $24 trillion Canadian).

“This independent report highlights that we are in the midst of a social and economic revolution,” said Paul Willcox, Chairman of Nissan Europe. “It shows that autonomous technology will have a fundamental impact not just on the automotive industry but across European economies and societies and it suggests that leadership within all levels of government is needed. We believe, for the full benefits of autonomous drive technologies to be realised, governments and municipalities across Europe should review the report’s findings, work hand in hand with the automotive industry, and play a vital role in ushering in this new technological era.”

Nissan itself has released The Nissan Social Index: Consumer Attitudes to Autonomous Drive, a survey of 6,000 adults across six European countries (France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain and the UK). It showed that 58% of respondents thought that improved mobility for everyone (meaning drivers and non-drivers) would be the biggest advantage of autonomous cars; 52% of respondents thought the reduction of crashes caused by human error was the biggest advantage; and 43% considered it the ability to remove unsafe/poor drivers from behind the wheel.

The top health benefits were fewer injuries from crashes and reduced stress levels (named by 56% or respondents), and the ability to do something other than driving was considered the top lifestyle benefit (50%).

Finally, 23% of people looking to replace their vehicles beyond the next five years said they would consider an autonomous car. As for what they would do if they didn’t have to drive, reading books or news would be the choice of 37% of respondents, followed by sleeping (33%), catching up on work (30%) and watching TV or films (20%).

But what about concerns about autonomous vehicles? A failure of the technology was cited as the biggest concern (48%), followed by not having control of the vehicle (39%), and loss of employment for taxi and deliver drivers (28%).

“What’s clear from the research published today is that political decisions makers across Europe need to prioritise autonomous vehicle policies to create a favorable environment that will see this technology flourish,” concluded Willcox. “The customers want it, and are starting to see the benefits of an autonomous future, but we need the right legislative environment to enable this exciting new era of mobility to thrive.”