Driverless cars ‘a long way off’

Infographic: Driverless cars ‘a long way off’

 

  • Seven out of 10 SMEs don’t expect driverless cars on the road by 2021 
  • Half of business owners see driverless cars as neither a threat nor an opportunity 
  • Less than one in 10 expect to see a direct impact on their business

The UK’s small and medium-sized enterprises do not believe driverless cars will be a feature of our roads by 2021, with the transport and haulage sector particularly uncertain, new research from Close Brothers Asset Finance reveals. 

The latest quarterly Close Brothers Asset Finance Business Barometer (965 respondents) shows that only 31% of SMEs in the UK expect to see widespread use of driverless vehicles, falling to 21% in the transport sector. 

“The government has ambitious plans to invest in the sector,” said Ian Aitchison, Managing Director, Close Brothers Business Finance. “But what our research shows is that the jury is, in effect, still out, for most business owners.” 

Threat or opportunity? 

The prospect of driverless cars is currently seen as neither a threat nor an opportunity for most businesses, with 52% being neutral on the issue. Transport SMEs; however, are more likely to feel threatened than those in other sectors:

 
 

Q: Is the prospect of driverless cars a threat or opportunity for businesses?

 

UK

Transport

Threat

17%

31%

Opportunity

31%

27%

Neither

52%

42%

 

“Until there is more progress made on autonomous vehicle technology, there is going to be a natural scepticism among business owners about the likelihood of the widespread use of driverless cars,” said Ian. 

Future impact 

Only 9% of business owners expect their business to be impacted by driverless cars, while 69% don’t expect any change; the remaining 23% feel it’s too early to tell. 

Q: Will your business be impacted by driverless cars?

 

UK

Construction

Engineering

Manufacturing

Transport

Print

Yes

9%

5%

11%

6%

21%

26%

No

69%

82%

61%

74%

53%

45%

Too early to tell

23%

13%

29%

20%

26%

29%

“Despite the lack of expected impact, 76% of firm owners see them as an inevitability – but only in the long-term,” said Ian. “Only 10% feel they will never be seen on the roads.”

Productivity

Roughly a third (30%) of those surveyed are of the opinion that driverless cars will have a positive impact on productivity while 38% are of the opposite view; the remaining 32% are unsure. 

Q: Will driverless cars lead to an increase in productivity?

UK

Yes, because it frees people up to work on the move

15%

Yes, because it allows people to sleep on the commute and come to work refreshed

15%

No, because people won't consider the commute part of working hours

25%

No, because people won't be as connected as they are in the office

13%

Don't know

32%