Study shows how much more people would pay for self-driving car

ITHACA, N.Y. — Would you be willing to pay extra to own a self-driving car? It’s believed that by 2030, a quarter of cars on the road will be driving without help from a human, yet those looking to get a jump on the new technology would pay just nearly $5,000 more for the luxury, a new study finds.

Researchers at Cornell University recruited 1,260 individuals across the U.S. to gauge how much consumers would pay for an autonomous vehicle.

Car driving on a road
How much would you pay for a self-driving car? A new study finds drivers would fork over an extra $5,000 for the new technology.

The study’s participants were instructed to choose from a number of vehicles with hypothetical features, such as an automated navigation system or autonomous driving capabilities.

The researchers found that, on average, consumers would be willing to pay an additional $4,900 for a self-driving car. Even partial automation warranted a $3,500 bump in a vehicle’s price tag.

Interestingly, the range of appropriate prices for a self-driving car varied greatly: some would pay over $10,000 extra for an autonomous vehicle, while others wouldn’t pay much of anything more.

Overall, the researchers found an about even split of opinion between three groups: those who highly desired, moderately desired, and felt ambivalent toward self-driving technology.

Understanding the disparate wants and needs of drivers will be vital in capturing the demand across sectors, the study’s authors argue.

In other words, maybe the self-driving car won’t be for everyone.

“Forecasting the transition to an automated transportation reality is a complex task that requires flexible mathematical models of human behavior as well as an understanding of the likely technology developments and possible business models that may emerge,” lead researcher Dr. Ricardo Daziano explains in a press release.

Ultimately, while there is little doubt there will be a supply of self-driving vehicles in the coming decade or two, it remains to be seen how high demand will be.

The study’s findings were published in the journal Transportation Research Part C: Emerging Technologies.