Nearly one in four Americans “would never use” an autonomous vehicle (AV), according to a key finding from a report about the future of mobility released by Ipsos, a global market research firm. Ipsos surveyed more than 21,000 adults across 28 countries about acceptance of AVs, which autonomous features are most in demand, potential ownership models, and regulation options.

The study was conducted as part of its What the Future series, which couples survey data and interviews with experts in the field to see what questions companies should be asking themselves about the future of their industries. According to the study, despite American tech and automotive companies leading the way in AV development, Americans are among the most reluctant to use it. Those in China, by contrast, are twice as likely to say they “can’t wait” to use AVs than Americans or Canadians.

Other results from the report (available for download at

  • More would prefer to continue owning their own vehicle (42%) than other proposed usage models, including hiring one on a per-use basis (22%) or leasing one for a monthly subscription fee (14%).
  • Democrats (59%) were more likely than Republicans (46%) to say they had a favorable view of self-driving cars.
  • Many Americans are unsure where regulation should come from but would prefer manufacturers and tech companies (36%) to self-regulate over government regulation (24%).
  • Cost will be a factor: 24% said they would switch to a self-driving car if it cost the same as their current car, but 45% would switch if it cost much less.
  • Many Americans (30%) would take more road trips in self-driving cars, including longer trips and new destinations.
  • Globally, a majority of those surveyed say that AVs will be easier, more comfortable, safer, more relaxing, more economical, more enjoyable, and friendlier to the environment. Fewer think AVs will be faster.
  • Americans are more skeptical of touted benefits including improved safety, comfort, and ease-of-use.
  • Autonomous parking is the feature respondents are most ready to use, with 58% saying they would utilize autonomous functionality “always or frequently.” Many (47%) would use it for commuting and in stop-and-go traffic, and 52% would use it for long-distance drives.
  • Younger Americans (under 35) have more favorable views of self-driving cars and their benefits.

Perhaps the reluctance of Americans to embrace this emerging technology has to do with its strong identity as a car-culture. Nearly six in 10 people consider themselves “car people,” and 81% feel that the car they drive reflects their personality, at least to some degree. Digging deeper into the data, Ipsos found hints of a coming car-culture clash, as noticeable divides about acceptance of autonomous vehicles are seen along political lines.

Across a number of topics addressed in the “What the Future” report, the data show that Democrats are more supportive of autonomous vehicles, more interested in their features and benefits, and more assured that these vehicles are coming in the near future.

“The safety improvements, potential cost-saving, and increased convenience might well prove a trifecta of benefits that can trump any sort of political discord,” said Clifford Young, President, U.S., Ipsos Public Affairs. “But social change on this scale does not happen without conflict, and those who do not plan for it will be the first to see their plans derailed by our age of uncertainty.”

See for full datasets and methodology for the study.