Ride Index

While America’s love affair with the car still seems relatively strong, a report from Ketchum finds that the relationship may be showing some signs of wear.

Almost three in ten respondents (29 percent) to Ketchum’s Daily Ride Index survey said that they would be willing to give up their cars for other modes of transportation (ridesharing, biking, buses, etc.). Even more (33 percent) said that their vehicle is too expensive to operate.

Perhaps even more surprising: 44 percent of male respondents said they would consider giving up their daily drive, with only 16 percent of women indicating that they’d be willing to follow suit. The generational breakdown goes counter to expectations as well, with Gen Xers being the most willing to go auto-free (44 percent), outpacing both Millennials (37 percent) and Gen Zers (32 percent). Boomers, however, weren’t nearly as willing to give up the keys to the car, with just 13 percent having considered doing without their vehicles.

When it comes down to real-world scenarios, things are a little different. Close to nine out of ten respondents (87 percent) said they use their personal vehicles to get around at least a few times a week. Walking (62 percent) was the second-most reported mode of transportation, with biking (17 percent), bus (15 percent), taxi or ride-sharing service (12 percent) and train or subway (12 percent) coming rather far behind.

The survey also looks into what technological features consumers want from the cars that they’re buying. Collision avoidance features were the most-desired add-on for 24 percent of respondents. Bluetooth integration was the choice of 12 percent, while six percent opted for in-car mobile wifi hotspots.

One tech innovation met with some skepticism is the rise of self-driving vehicles, with women voicing reservations more often than men. While a third of men (33 percent) said they would be uncomfortable with the concept of a fully autonomous car, that number rises to 59 percent for women.

There was also considerable interest in cars that run on alternative fuels. Though less than two percent of vehicles on the road today are electric, 24 percent of survey respondents said they are likely to consider buying an electric vehicle in the next 12 months. Hybrids were mentioned by 30 percent, while hydrogen-fueled cars were cited as a possibility by 21 percent. However, traditional gasoline vehicles (52 percent) were still the most popular option.

Overall, the study found that whether it’s a shift away from cars, or a move toward a different kind of car, consumers are looking for new choices. “As other transit models broaden our mobility and provide more efficient, convenient alternatives to driving, automotive companies will need to step up the pace to innovate in different ways and keep more Americans behind the wheel,” said Kevin Oates, partner and managing director of Ketchum’s transportation group.