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France is home to several iconic automobile brands, including Renault and Citroën, and equally iconic car races, including the 24-hour Le Mans classic. The Paris Auto Show is still a big feature of the autumn calendar.
So how do consumers in France feel about recent automotive innovations, such as self-driving cars and car-sharing?
Most like being the ones behind the wheel, according to data from Mondial de l’Automobile. Of the 1,008 internet users interviewed by OpinionWay Research in June 2016, 88% said a car journey was often, or always, synonymous with the freedom of travel, and 65% said they equated it with the pleasure of driving. And they feel about the opposite about self-driving cars. For example, while 58% of internet users in France said they either somewhat agreed or completely agreed that self-driving cars give them more free time, almost half of respondents somewhat disagreed or completely disagreed. Similarly, 54% of internet users said they somewhat agreed, or completely agreed, that self-driving cars are more secure, but 45% somewhat disagreed, or completely disagreed.
Of those respondents who owned a car and kept it at their home, 73% said they wouldn’t like to give it up, and 75% said they couldn’t do without it. An even higher percentage (78%) said they preferred to own their own car—rather than renting, for example—and 64% said they preferred actively driving the car they were in; just 23% said they would prefer a self-drive vehicle.
Similar views emerged from separate research from TNS Infratest. Some 91% of the adults surveyed in May 2016 had a driving license. While 63% of respondents—and 76% of those ages 18 to 24—were aware of self-driving cars, and six in 10 recognized these cars as a form of progress, 75% said they also associated autonomous cars with losing the pleasure of driving. Almost as many, 72%, thought self-driving cars wouldn’t be a significant commercial reality in France for at least 20 years.
Car-sharing got a cautious thumbs-up from the Mondial sample. Three in five adults (61%) said they thought of car-sharing chiefly as a good way to save money. But 38% said it was a source of stress, because they didn’t know the driver or whether they could drive well.
Among the web users polled by TNS, sharing a car was arguably less popular. Seven in 10 said they would prefer to take a long road trip in their own car, compared with 19% who preferred sharing. A large majority also favored using their own vehicle for a short trip to the city or the countryside; just 8% said they would choose car-sharing for such journeys.
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