Mazda survey finds most people still want to drive

Even in the face of autonomous technology, a majority of respondents believe in joy through driving.

It seems that every automaker and tech startup is trying to make autonomous driving a thing. Not so fast, says Mazda, who recently found in a study that a 71 percent majority still prefer to have control of their car.

These days Mazda appears to be the only carmaker, outside the high-end specialty builders, wholly invested in making fun-to-drive cars that are more than A-to-B appliances. In fact, it's doubling down on internal combustion engines and soulful handling while the rest of the industry moves towards electric and autonomous vehicles. So it would stand to reason that the Hiroshima-based firm would have an interest in whether customers want to drive or be driven.

That's why it hired research firm Ipsos MORI to conduct a survey of 11,008 adults and their motoring preferences. The results, as reported by Motor1, were a bit surprising: "A staggering 71 percent of people surveyed would still want to drive, while only 29 percent would actively welcome the arrival of autonomous vehicles."

Furthermore, about two-thirds of respondents said that even if autonomous cars were readily available, they would still keep driving themselves. Age did not seem to be a factor, with even the youngest group (18-24 year olds) in line with older drivers.

The only catch is that the survey was conducted in European markets, where manual transmission cars still rule. 1,002 respondents hailed from the UK, and their stated reasons give car enthusiasts a glimmer of hope. While "independence" was the most popular rationale with 81 percent of UK respondents, 62 percent admitted to driving "for fun" and over 50 percent said that driving wasn't merely for getting from point A to point B.

The report continues, with a full 70 percent of UK respondents said that wanted future generations to have the option to drive themselves, and 39 percent believed driving was becoming a "forgotten pleasure."

For its part, Mazda is not opposed to technological aids, surmising that autonomous helpers could help drivers in emergency situations like collision mitigation. However, it appears for now humans still want to be in the driver's seat.

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