By Hannah Lutz, Crain News Service
DETROIT (April 23, 2015) — Auto makers should invest in safety technology, over entertainment and convenience, to satisfy customers, according to a J.D. Power study released April 22.
The 2015 U.S. Tech Choice Study found that three of the top five vehicle technologies consumers prefer are related to safety, specifically collision protection. As consumers become increasingly comfortable with autonomous-driving features, auto makers will have to focus on safety technologies to meet their expectations, according to the study.
Blind-spot detection and prevention systems, night vision and enhanced collision mitigation systems were among the five most valued features.
Consumers' preference for collision protection makes up the “building blocks for autonomous driving,” Kristin Kolodge, executive director of driver interaction and human machine interface research at J.D. Power, said in an interview. “Small instances will begin to culminate [and lead to] to self-driving vehicles.”
The study looked at three levels of autonomous driving: fully autonomous, limited autonomous and traffic-jam assist.
Survey respondents showed the highest preference for fully autonomous vehicles. Limited followed, and traffic-jam assistance was least preferred, Ms. Kolodge said.
The other technologies in the top five were rearview camera and monitors, and self-healing paint.
The results were based on responses from more than 5,300 consumers who have purchased or leased a new vehicle in the past five years. The online survey was conducted from January to March.
The study, which is in its first year, examined 59 vehicle features in entertainment and connectivity, comfort and convenience, collision protection, driving assistance, navigation and energy efficiency.
The study also showed little consumer interest in additional energy-efficient technologies, according to Ms. Kolodge.
“There is very little interest in energy-efficiency technologies such as active shutter grille vents and solar glass roofs,” she said. “Owners aren't as enthusiastic about having these technologies in their next vehicle because of other efforts auto makers are taking to improve fuel economy, as well as relatively low fuel prices at the present time.”
‘Lukewarm interest' in smartphone connectivity
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto technologies had low preference scores among all ages surveyed, the statement said.
“Lukewarm interest in these technologies that connect your phone to your vehicle coupled with consumer loyalty to their phone poses a unique challenge for auto makers, which could be remedied by knowing their customers' phone preferences,” Ms. Kolodge said in a statement.
Luxury-vehicle owners often own iOS devices. Offering Apple CarPlay would cover most consumers, but auto makers still could leave out a portion of the market by offering Apple's program only.
Nonluxury drivers are almost equally divided between ownership of Apple or Android devices.
The results provide a “clear image to say that if an auto maker chose to put just one smartphone technology on the car, it would be at risk,” Ms. Kolodge said in the interview.
Price was the most important consideration for technology, the study said, but younger buyers, notably Gen X and Gen Y, were the least concerned about the price of technology.
“This generation has grown up spending on technology, so it's natural for them,” Ms. Kolodge said. “And they're approaching their peak years for earning.”
They were willing to spend $3,000 to $3,700 on average, J.D. Power found. Baby boomers and pre-boomers were willing to spend $2,067 to $2,400 on average.
This report appeared on the website of Automotive News, a Detroit-based sister publication of Tire Business.