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People are ready to pay extra for self-driving cars

  • A survey of 5,000 vehicle owners found that many would pay extra for self-driving technology.
  • How much more they were willing to pay depended on where they lived.
  • US car buyers are willing to pay an extra $780 for full autonomy technology, according to IHS Markit.
  • In the U.S., just over half want full autonomy technology in their next car or truck.
The inside of a Tesla vehicle
Spencer Platt | Getty Images
The inside of a Tesla vehicle

Self-driving cars may still be a year or two away from hitting the road in big numbers, but new research shows consumers are willing to pay up for the technology.

In fact, a survey of 5,000 vehicle owners around the world found autonomous-drive technology is a feature many people are willing to pay for, in some cases as much as $1,000 extra.

"There is a large subset of consumers who are willing to pay for full autonomy features demonstrating that consumers see this more as a value-add rather than a necessary safety component, at least for now," said Colin Bird, senior automotive technology analyst for IHS Markit.

Right now, Tesla's Enhanced Autopilot is the most well-known driver-assist system offering hands-free driving. It's a $5,000 option that allows you to take your hands off the wheel for short periods of time.

For $8,000 Tesla buyers can buy a full self-driving system, though that technology is still being developed and has not yet been pushed out to Tesla models through an over-the-air software update.

Tesla does not say how many customers have paid for Enhanced Autopilot technology.

Meanwhile, Cadillac will include its new Super Cruise technology in CT6 models for those willing to pay an additional $2,500. Super Cruise will let you drive hands-free on the highway.

Over time, prices are expected to drop as more vehicles come with autonomous-drive technology. But at least initially, consumers are indicating they will pay to take their hands off the wheel. How much more depends on where they live.

According to IHS Markit, car buyers in the U.S. are willing to pay an extra $780 for full autonomy technology. By comparison, those in Germany would pay $1,016, while those surveyed in China would only pay an additional $555, on average.

In the U.S., just over half of those surveyed indicated they want full autonomy technology in their next car or truck.

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