Australians Concerned About How AI Will Be Used in Automotive

Consumer Trends

Australians Concerned About How AI Will Be Used in Automotive

Ben Sullivan
Ben Sullivan
April 11, 2024
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Recently, there has been a great deal of discussion around how AI (artificial intelligence), such as ChatGPT, could enhance our lives and the potential risks it poses. AI is increasingly becoming a part of many aspects of our lives. One particularly interesting area is the various ways AI could be integrated into vehicles to enhance the driving experience.

In December 2023, we asked 1,013 Australians about their attitudes towards AI in general and specifically about the appeal of various ‘options’ being explored across the automotive industry.

More Concern Than Excitement:

Generally, there's more concern (45%) than excitement (29%) about AI. One in four Australians (25%) express significant concern, either when prompted or unprompted. A further 20% are concerned but do not share this, while 27% have no feelings either way. 

Fewer than one in three Australians are excited about AI. This finding suggests that brands must be careful when considering how to use AI in their businesses. Is this concern driven by a lack of knowledge about what data is being collected, by whom, or how it is being used?  

Do they understand if, and how, this is linked to their personal information? Reports suggest not. As in so many areas, maintaining the trust of your customers is critical.

Concern around AI in vehicles increases with age. People aged 40-49 have mild concerns but are less likely to vocalize them, while over-50s are more likely to express concerns. It seems likely that this effect is related to greater familiarity and experience with technology in general, and perhaps less cynicism, amongst younger people.

Females tend to be more concerned than males, with 49% expressing some level of concern compared to 39% of men.

With a majority of new vehicles sold to over-50s who are wealthier than average, the implication is that we must showcase the technology and its benefits. We must be transparent about data collection and sharing – show the tech but don’t preach it.

We also asked about the appeal of a range of features that use AI and are being considered for vehicles. Given the overall levels of concern around AI, it is not surprising that less familiar features had lower appeal. 

Appealing Features: 

Around 60% of respondents found the following features appealing, with roughly 10% finding them unappealing. These types of features are more likely to be ‘familiar’ to many drivers, they do not actively ‘take control’ of the vehicle, and there is little perceived risk.

  • Traffic Prediction/Optimization (best route suggestions, coordinating traffic lights to minimise congestion) was universally appealing, especially to higher-income groups. Those enthusiastic about AI find it appealing, though a third of the highly concerned group finds it unappealing.
  • AI systems that deliver improved driving efficiency (helping drivers use less fuel/electricity – driving style, engine performance, route selection) was attractive across all demographics. A third of those earning over $200K find it very appealing. 
  • Improving safety (helping drivers avoid accidents through lane keep assist, automatic emergency braking, automatic cruise control) is another area manufacturers are looking at implementing AI to augment existing technology. This possibility is widely appealing. Males and higher-income groups find it very appealing, which is likely due to higher-income owners having newer vehicles and hence being more familiar with existing technology.
  • AI systems that predict/advise on maintenance requirements (predicts potential failures or breakdowns and notifies owner before something goes wrong) were generally appealing. However, there's some resistance among the ‘very concerned’ group, which we hypothesise might be due to concerns about being ‘watched’ and/or potential for OEM service centres to try and schedule unnecessary work.

Polarizing Features:

  • Vehicles providing a Personalized Driving Experience (voice recognition enabling the driver to control vehicle functions using voice commands) divides opinions, with 38% finding it appealing while 24% found it unappealing.

    It is hypothesised that concerns relate to the ability of the systems to understand a driver’s request accurately and consistently, plus the sense that an ‘action’ is taken by the vehicle without the driver being certain of it.
  • A system that uses AI to determine the 'best' outcome from an unavoidable accident (incl. who/what is hit/injured/killed) was also divisive. Accident Outcome Decision Making was appealing to 1 in 3 drivers, with a similar proportion finding it unappealing.

    This feature remains problematic both morally and technically for the Automotive industry, insurance companies, and society more broadly. How will these decisions be made? Who will write and be responsible for the ‘code’ that is used? And who is ‘responsible’ for an accident that results in death(s); the driver, the manufacturer, or the programmer, and who pays?

Unappealing Features:

  • The feature that had the least appeal was Autonomous Driving and Self-Driving Cars. With only 1 in 4 drivers finding it appealing and 44% finding it unappealing, this feature was generally unappealing. Concern about AI largely mirrors the level of appeal for this feature.

    Australians are likely concerned about how well a self-driving vehicle will perform in the real world, the risks associated with a malfunction, and who is liable in the case of an accident while using this feature.


While the world is abuzz with excitement around AI, a significant proportion of the population is concerned about the potential implications. The automotive industry must understand and ameliorate these (some very real) concerns before developing products that risk alienating parts of the community. This will require different conversations with different customers – reassure where needed, explain the details, and demonstrate how to use it most effectively.

As always, when a business truly understands the humans that use its products, it is in a better position to provide a great customer experience and drive competitive growth.

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