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2015 U.S. Tech Choice Study Results

2015 U.S. Tech Choice Study Results

By Jeff Youngs,

Collision avoidance appears to be the common theme among the most popular automotive technologies, according to a new J.D. Power study. The J.D. Power 2015 U.S.Tech Choice Study,SM which uses advanced statistical methodologies to measure preference for and perceived value of future and emerging technologies, finds that three of the five technologies consumers most prefer in their next new vehicle are related to collision mitigation. Among the technologies consumers express the most interest in having in their next new vehicle are blind-spot detection and prevention systems, night vision, and enhanced collision-mitigation systems. The non-collision protection technologies that crack the top five are camera rearview mirror, which falls into the driving assistance category, and self-healing paint, a comfort and convenience category.

In the inaugural U.S. Tech Choice Study, a total of 59 advanced vehicle features are examined across six major categories: entertainment and connectivity; comfort and convenience; collision protection; driving assistance; navigation; and energy efficiency.

Key Findings Favor Automation
In general, technologies that reduce the overall burden of driving and enhance vehicle safety receive the most consumer interest. This indicates that vehicle owners are more receptive to the idea of the vehicle taking over critical driving functions such as braking and steering. Full self-driving automation technology, part of the collision protection category, is designed to perform all safety-critical driving functions and monitor roadway conditions.

A key finding of the study is that the younger generations (Gen Y and Gen X)1 have substantially higher preference for the technology than the older generations (Boomer and Pre-Boomer). The Pre-Boomer generation, in contrast, has a greater preference for lower levels of automation, such as traffic-jam assist.

Blind-spot detection and prevention has high preference across the range of vehicle price segments, but reverse auto braking systems have low preference across the vehicle price segments--and it gets lower at the higher price points. Advanced sensor technologies, such as hand-gesture-controlled seats, biometric driver sensors or haptic touch screens, have low preference. Technologies in the navigation category have low preference across all vehicle price segments.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the younger customer is willing to spend more on technology, on average. The study shows that Gen Y consumers will spend an average of $3,703 on technology for their next vehicle. Gen X is willing to spend $3,007; Boomers, $2,416; and Pre-Boomers are willing to spend only $2,067.

"There is a tremendous interest in collision-protection technologies across all generations, which creates opportunities across the market," said Kristin Kolodge, executive director of driver interaction & HMI research at J.D. Power. "In contrast, there is very little interest in energy efficiency technologies such as active shutter grille vents and solar glass roofs. Owners aren't as enthusiastic about having these technologies in their next new vehicle because of other efforts automakers are taking to improve fuel economy as well as relatively low fuel prices at the present time."

Smartphone Connectivity Technologies Rate Low
According to the study, Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto connectivity technologies have the lowest preference scores across all generations. Kolodge noted that "lukewarm interest in these technologies that connect your phone to your vehicle coupled with consumer loyalty to their phone poses a unique challenge for automakers, which could be remedied by knowing their customers' phone preferences."

"Owners of luxury vehicles tend to own iOS devices, so for many luxury brands, offering Apple CarPlay may be the best option, realizing they may be leaving out a portion of the market," she adds. "For non-luxury vehicle brands, the ownership of Apple and Android devices is much closer to an equal split. The solution for those brands may be to offer both operating systems and allow customers to select the option best suited for them."

Kolodge concludes that the auto industry is "standing on its head to keep technology up to consumers' new standards. Those who haven't done so have seen negative feedback from consumers."

Consumer Tips
Based on the study, J.D. Power offers the following consumer tips:
  • Stay aware of what's available in terms of automated driving technologies, and take every opportunity to test them.
  • Determine the level of automation with which you're comfortable.
  • Determine the usefulness of any new technology feature before paying extra for it.
  • Consider the compatibility of communications technologies when you're buying a phone or a car.

About the Study
The 2015 U.S. Tech Choice Study was fielded in January through March 2015 and is based on an online survey of more than 5,300 consumers who purchased/leased a new vehicle in the past 5 years.

1 J.D. Power defines generational groups as Pre-Boomers (born before 1946); Boomers (1946-1964); Gen X (1965-1976); and Gen Y (1977-1994).

Additional Research:

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