J.D. Power: Consumers Want Connectivity, Fuel Economy

Apr 30, 2013

The 2013 U.S. Automotive Emerging Technologies Study measured vehicle owner interest and purchase intent for 22 emerging automotive technologies before and after their market prices were revealed. More than 16,750 vehicle owners participated in the study. Features that consumers expressed the most interest in were wireless connectivity, natural language voice activation and other infotainment accessories.

Consumer purchase interest declined across all features mentioned in the study when a market price was introduced. Study participants were asked to name a device/application feature they were most interested in before the market price was revealed. Fuel economy became the top feature consumers desired feature after the market price of the technologies was presented.

Fuel economy and active shutter grille vents, both energy-related technologies, experienced the lowest drops in interest among the study group once price was introduced compared to other technologies.

“Vehicle owners are continually aware of rising fuel costs and the need for better fuel economy,” said Mike VanNieuwkuyk, executive director of global automotive at J.D. Power and Associates. “As they have come to understand the benefits of new automotive technology, they are increasingly interested in those that allow them to manage their fuel consumption with greater efficiency and help better manage their cost at the pump.”

The rapid adoption of smartphones during the last five years has driven demand for in-vehicle smartphone integration. More than 67 percent of vehicle owners have a smartphone, while ownership of traditional mobile phones has plummeted to 28 percent in 2013 from 82 percent in 2007, according to J.D. Power.

“Automakers have an important opportunity to gain a competitive advantage by working side-by-side with smartphone and application developers to provide a seamless smartphone experience for in-vehicle control of GPS/mapping, music, weather, search tools, travel and more,” VanNieuwkuyk said. “These connections to smartphone applications need to be robust, affordable, and simple to access and use in a vehicle environment.”

Vehicle owners in Generation Y (ages 18-25) are more likely to be interested in device application linking technology at every price level, but the study revealed that interest in the technology has increased among Early Boomers (ages 60-66) since 2012.

Vehicle owners expressed interest in natural language voice activation, which can alleviate the limits of hands-free technology and distracted driving, according to the study.

Although the overall acceptance of autonomous driving has room to grow, J.D. Power’s study concluded that there is greater interest in semi-autonomous modes such as emergency braking and steering, and automatic park assist than in fully autonomous mode.Consumers still want the responsibility of driving their own vehicle until these technologies fully gain consumer confidence and trust.