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Energy Features, Smartphone Integration are Most Popular for Next Vehicle

Energy Features, Smartphone Integration are Most Popular for Next Vehicle

By Jeff Youngs, April 28, 2013
What new technologies do vehicle owners want most in their next car or truck? J.D. Power and Associates determines that vehicle owners are interested most in features that help improve fuel economy, along with device/application linking technology for smartphones in their vehicles, plus wireless connectivity, according to results in the company's 2013 U.S. Automotive Emerging Technologies Study.

Natural language voice activation, which is designed to recognize normal speech patterns, and a variety of infotainment features--such as ways to manage audio content, use navigation, and deliver rear-seat entertainment--also are favored new technologies by vehicle owners in the study that measures owner interest and purchase intent for newer automotive technologies, before and after a market price is revealed.

Technologies that enhance fuel economy are two of the 22 features evaluated in the study with the highest percentages of vehicle owners who indicate interest and purchase intent. Higher interest among owners this year may be because these technologies are already available in some non-premium vehicles. Fuel economy indicators and active shutter grille vent (this technology improves fuel efficiency by reducing drag and regulating air flow to reach the vehicle's radiator when needed to save gas) are lower-priced than some of the other emerging technologies and owners are already familiar with them.

Connectivity is of major interest to vehicle owners. More than 67% of vehicle owners in this year's study have a smartphone. Smartphone technology has revolutionized the way owners engage in both personal and professional activities from their vehicle. Owners want to use their smartphones in their vehicles to control and access GPS/mapping, music, weather, travel, and search tools with the same ease and functionality they have become accustomed to at home and at work. However, a key challenge is that many owners keep their vehicles for more than five years, and software upgrades for device-linking technology in vehicles is behind introductions of new smartphones.

The majority (82%) of vehicle owners with smartphones cite pre-purchase interest in an in-vehicle device/app link that would connect their smartphone to their vehicle's infotainment system, up from 78% in 2012. Owners want their infotainment system powered by their smartphone to keep their vehicle technology up to date. At the same time, the study finds that vehicle owners struggle with the limitations of hands-free technology, which is also why they express higher interest in natural language voice activation systems--74% before a price is presented.

Young vehicle owners--those in Gen Y (born between 1977-1995)--are most apt to be interested in device/app linking technology at all price levels, although Early Boomers (those born between 1947 and 1953) also are more interested than in 2012 in purchasing this technology in their vehicle at a market price of $250.

It's interesting that the concept of a self-driving system in a car, or what is termed autonomous driving mode, is no longer considered "outside the box" among vehicle owners. In fact, Google's pilot self-driving vehicles are legal in Mountain View, California, near Google headquarters. In addition to California, self-driving cars are also legal in Nevada and Florida. Awareness of this new technology is higher than a year ago. In spite of a $3,000 suggested market price, there is slightly higher interest among owners in equipping their next vehicle with this new technology in comparison to 2012, according to study results--21% vs. 20% in 2012. Before a market price is introduced, both probable and definite interest in having this emerging technology in an owner's next vehicle rises to 39%.

Some semi-autonomous safety features also receive higher acceptance this year--especially those that are safety focused--and these may be paving the way for acceptance of autonomous driving mode systems. Semi-autonomous technologies such as low-speed collision avoidance system ($250), emergency braking and steering system ($800), and automatic park assist system ($400) receive relatively strong interest from today's new-vehicle buyers at 55%, 40%, and 32%, respectively. Younger consumers and those owning premium vehicles show the most interest in each of these features.

Additional Research:

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