71% of UK drivers surveyed said that they still want to drive themselves in the future

The autonomous car is just around the corner with automakers remodelling their businesses to take advantage of the changing needs of travellers. This includes investments in driverless technology and ride sharing services as car ownership is set to fall.

However, research carried out by Ipsos MORI reveals that the joy of driving is alive and well in the UK, with 71% of people surveyed saying they would still want to drive, even with self-driving technology available, whilst only 29% actively welcome the arrival of autonomous vehicles.

The research – which was commissioned as part of Mazda’s Drive Together campaign – polled 11,008 adults across key European markets, including 1,002 in the UK, and reveals that across those countries an average of 66% of drivers wanted to remain behind the wheel even if self-driving cars become widely available.

Nissan Propilot
Nissan’s latest LEAF will be equipped with Pro-Pilot autonomous technology

Interestingly, there is no evidence of greater support for self-driving cars in younger age groups across Europe: for example 18-24 year olds (33%) were no more likely to welcome self-driving cars than 25-34 year olds (36%) or 35-44 year olds (34%).

The research also reveals a significant emotional connection between car and driver as demonstrated by the following statistics: 70% of drivers questioned in the UK

“Hope that future generations will continue to have the option to drive cars”

While 62% of respondents stated that they have driven “just for fun” and 81% of those who enjoy driving saying it is because it “gives them independence”.

In addition 55% stated that driving is about much more than just getting from A to B and 39% agree driving is in danger of becoming a “forgotten pleasure”.

Japanese car maker Mazda states they believe driving is a skill that people will want to keep and sees autonomous technology as acting as a co-pilot.  Driverless functionality should be available when needed to avoid accidents, but with the driver in control to enjoy the freedom of driving.

Mazda want drivers to enjoy the freedom of driving

Further findings from the research show that 54% of Europeans questioned have been for a drive “just for fun”, whilst 55% agree driving with family or friends can be a “special experience”, while in Spain, Italy, Sweden and Poland this figure rises to more than six in ten drivers.

Comparisons with other activities are also revealing with 37% preferring driving for fun to computer games, 23% choosing driving compared to a drink in a bar or playing sports, with the latter as high as 37% in the UK.

The Founder of driveEV. A driving and new technology fan enjoying learning all about the future of motoring. I drive a BMW i3.