Australians are ready for autonomous vehicles, with 51% of men and 41% of women willing to travel in a driverless car now, a poll by Roy Morgan Research finds.

While this averages out to just 46%, the research group says the new preparedness for the driverless era is widespread across age groups; the majority of all age profiles 50 years and under indicates readiness for autonomous vehicles.

Roy Morgan CEO Michele Levine says the growing acceptance of driverless cars represents a profound shift in the way Australians view their future mobility.

“The closure of Australia’s automotive manufacturing industry this year in many ways heralds a shift from the old guard to the new world of mobility,” Levine says in a statement.

“This is particularly for younger Australians who increasingly congregate in inner urban areas where car-sharing services and Uber have changed the way Australians view their cars,” Levine says. “The days when younger Australians argued over the merits of a (GM) Holden or a Ford, epitomized by the Bathurst 1000 (motor race), are clearly long past.”

The sea-change also is shown in another Roy Morgan poll for its “State of the Nation” report that finds 63% of Australians would pay more for a zero-emissions car such as an all-electric Tesla, including 100% of 18- to 24-year-olds and 72% of 25- to 34-year-olds.

“There is a significant appetite to move towards zero emissions in Australia,” Levine says.

“The continuing call by Australians – 17% of whom cite climate change/global warming as the largest problem facing the world, more than double any other single issue – reveals that the drive towards electric cars like Tesla will continue to strengthen.”

Awareness of car-sharing services such as Go-Get and Flexi-Car has reached a critical mass in Australia’s major cities with 55% in Sydney and 56% in Melbourne, another Roy Morgan poll finds. Men (43%) are more aware of car-sharing than women (29%), for an overall figure among Australians of 33%.

Levine believes the findings reflect a growing awareness of the inefficiency of traditional car ownership.

“Our cars sit idle for 23 hours a day, on average, and the car in the Aussie garage is not always the right car for the right job,” she says.

“Car-sharing enables Australians to have a large SUV when they need to move people and things around, or a small car for that quick trip into the city – one size does not fit all.

“All traditional models in the automotive industry are under siege. This is just the latest avenue of ‘attack’ from alternatives to the ownership model Australians have held onto for several decades.”