By Lindsay Chappell, Crain News Service
DETROIT (May 16, 2013) — A new survey about what vehicle consumers want and don't want suggests that the auto industry is lagging consumers when it comes to technology ideas.
The study, undertaken globally by software supplier Cisco Systems Inc., found a surprisingly high degree of consumer comfort with the idea of vehicles that drive themselves—a technology that so far exists mainly at R&D centers.
It also found that many consumers from the U.S. to China don't trust auto maker or dealership websites when it comes to shopping for new cars.
Half of the U.S. respondents in Cisco's survey said they trust third-party vehicle information sites, such as the Kelley Blue Book and Edmunds.com sites, but only one-fourth trust factory or car dealership sites.
That feedback may be unsettling to auto dealers who are devoting more of their media dollars to website retailing and online branding.
Almost half of the U.S. consumers said they would be content shopping for a car at a mall kiosk instead of an auto dealership and even making future purchases online—all the way through to the final purchase documentation stage.
Such kiosk retailing is highly restricted under many states' auto franchise laws.
Andreas Mai, Cisco's director of product management for Smart Connected Vehicles, said the survey response simply reveals that many consumers want kiosk shopping nonetheless.
Globally, Cisco found that three-fourths of the owners are happy to have their vehicles share information about their driving habits if it will result in lower insurance costs or reduce vehicle maintenance expenses. Nearly two-thirds said they would even be happy to share data on height, weight, driving habits and entertainment preferences if it improved their driving experience.
Mr. Mai reported that 60 percent of the owners globally said they would even be willing to provide biometrics such as fingerprints and DNA samples if the effort translated to improved vehicle security technology.
The survey found that 60 percent of U.S. respondents were comfortable with the idea of traveling in an automated "driverless" vehicle, and 48 percent were comfortable having their children transported in one.
This report appeared in Automotive News, a Detroit-based sister publication of Tire Business.