“Younger people are concerned more than anyone about money and debt,” said Phoebe Wall Howard, Business Writer, Autos Team, Detroit Free Press. “They feel like things cost more than in times past, and their money isn’t going as far. It’s an issue that is too often dismissed by the media and business strategists as not significant, but this is top of mind for consumers I interview.”
Beyond the MSRP, there are maintenance and insurance costs to consider. Neither picture is clear right now with autonomous cars as to what those costs will be. However, a natural train of thought is that if self-driving cars do reduce accidents, insurance rates will go down. This may provide some relief from the higher MSRPs likely to accompany autonomous cars.
“If people are not filing claims, and if insurance companies are not making payouts in the volume they are used to, they will typically lower rates because there’s not as much risk on the road,” Lee said. “However, with autonomous cars, this is all purely speculation.”
In the PAVE survey mentioned above, respondents could not reach a unanimous conclusion on insurance. When asked, 29 percent said insurance rates would go down, 30 percent said it wouldn’t, and 41 percent were not sure. While it might be easy to assume self-driving cars would reduce insurance premiums, it’s not entirely a foregone conclusion. According to Lee, the data would need to show that autonomous cars do decrease accidents and claims unequivocally.
“As far as insurance rates go, my main prediction is that we will see a spike as insurance companies measure what they’re dealing with in terms of risk,” she said. “And then maybe, in time, once they collect all the statistics, they’ll drop rates if there is a drastic decrease in accidents and claims.”