Survey: A majority of Americans would be interested in cars from Google & Apple

September 6, 2016

Automakers, pay attention: a new survey suggests that more than half of U.S. consumers would be interested in cars developed by tech giants Google and Apple.

The survey was conducted by TECHnalysis Research, which polled 1,000 Americans who (a) currently own a vehicle and (b) plan to purchase another one within the next two years. Among the many questions those folks were asked was whether they'd be interested in buying a car made by Apple, Google, or another technology company. The results were interesting, to say the least:

  • Of those surveyed, 59% said that they would be definitely, seriously, or moderately interested in a car made by Google, while 52% said that they would be definitely, seriously, or moderately interested in cars from Apple.
  • Drilling down, 33% said they were seriously or moderately interested in a car from Google, while 28% expressed serious or moderate interest in an Apple car. 
  • Among early adopters, 12% of respondents said that they would definitely purchase a car from Apple, while 11% said the same of cars made by Google.
  • At the other side of the spectrum, 18% said that they had no interest in cars from Google, while a significantly higher 24% turned up their noses at Apple cars.

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Translation: a majority of U.S. consumers would be willing to consider buying a car made by Google or Apple. (Results for other, unnamed tech firms weren't so high.) 

Also, today's consumers are more interested in Google cars than those made by Apple, except for hardcore early adopters. Among that group, Apple has a slight edge--which isn't surprising, given its legions of rabid fans.

Implications

What does this mean for car companies? At the very least, they ought to sit up and take notice. 

Google and Apple don't produce cars--at least not yet. Apple hasn't even acknowledged that it's developing a car, which is possibly the worst-kept secret in tech. As for Google, one bigwig went so far as to say that the company wasn't planning to build its own vehicles, though a few months later, rumors emerged that Google and Ford were creating a new car company.

Complicating matters is the fact that Google and presumably Apple are both working on autonomous cars, which make consumers a little wary. If that's all the two firms produce, they'll be selling to a smaller market, at least for the time being, and at least here in the U.S. (In China, though, the sky's the limit.) 

However, when it comes to technology, consumers place far more faith in Silicon Valley than in car companies. We've seen that in the infotainment field, where automaker's efforts have yielded lots of frustration (and lawsuits). And a recent study about attitudes toward autonomous cars revealed that consumers want tech firms to develop driving systems, not car companies themselves. That could give Google and Apple a slight edge on the sales floor.

Bottom line: automakers can breathe easy for now, but tomorrow could be another story.

How would you feel about cars from Google and Apple? Would you prefer one brand over the other? And who should develop autonomous tech anyway? Sound off in the comments below.

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