Car Owners Want Technology, But Don’t Want It to Take Control
J.D. Power survey indicates that infotainment systems are more desirable -- self-driving not so much.
As someone who has covered auto technology for more than two decades, I’ve been asked by mainstream media quite a bit lately why car shoppers these days are so enamored of technology -- and are often basing their buying decisions on it. I like to answer that question with another question (or two): Why do some people wait in line for hours outside an Apple Store to buy the first new gadget from the Cupertino cabal? Or why do so many people spend so much time on Facebook and other social media platforms?
For better or worse, we’re enamored with technology, and that doesn’t end when we get into our cars -- though some argue that it should, for safety reasons. While I point to anecdotal evidence to prove the point, the number crunchers at J.D. Power & Associates have hard data from their 2012 U.S. Automotive Emerging Technologies Study, which was released today.
The study, based on responses from more than 17,400 vehicle owners and conducted in March, gauges vehicle owners’ interest and purchase intent for “emerging automotive technologies” before and after the price is revealed. What J.D. Power found is that now that car owners have come to expect additional safety features on vehicles, they are “turning their attention more to infotainment technologies.”
Given many people's obsession with smartphones, it’s not surprising that desire for a “wireless connectivity system” scored among the top five considered technologies, both before and after people surveyed knew what the price tag read.
The top five technologies in the survey results -- based on respondents indicating that they “definitely” or “probably” would purchase them in their next new car -- before and after the price were revealed are:
Pre-Price Feature Interest
- Light emitting diode (LED) headlights: 70%
- Natural language voice-activation: 69%
- Next-generation heads-up display: 69%
- Wireless connectivity system: 68%
- Remote vehicle diagnostics: 65%
At Market Price Feature Interest
- HD radio (at $100): 52%
- Enhanced collision mitigation system (at $750): 46%
- Wireless connectivity system (at $300): 45%
- Surround-view rear-vision camera (at $550): 44%
- Personal assistance safety services (at $15/month): 41%
As expected, purchase intent drops for all features after the price is revealed.
And despite all the hoopla over autonomous vehicles -- and Google’s revelation yesterday of its intentions to work with automakers and suppliers to bring its pioneering self-driving technology to market -- the survey found respondents still aren’t so sure about it. Although the technology is still years away and still has to jump regulatory and liability hurdles, just 20 percent of those surveyed said they “definitely would” or “probably would” pay for self-driving technology in their next vehicle after discovering an estimated market price of $3,000. Before learning the price, interest was at 37 percent.
"Consumers are still learning about how autonomous driving technology could be used in their vehicles," said Mike VanNieuwkuyk, executive director of global automotive at J.D. Power and Associates, in a press release. "Many owners are skeptical about releasing control of their vehicle and would like to see the technology proved out before they adopt it."
The survey found that vehicles owners had nearly the same interest in semi-autonomous driving technologies that are available today -- emergency stop assist ($800), traffic-jam assist ($800) or speed limit assist ($800) -- as they did for fully autonomous driving.
J.D. Power research that tracks social-media reaction to autonomous driving discovered that “online sentiment is generally positive.” Some see it as “taking control away from careless, distracted drivers,” while others say it’s a chance “to enjoy the time while traveling.”
Of course, driving enthusiasts view it as a “loss of status” and don’t want to let the car have all the fun. And the survey found that all drivers want to choose between letting the machines take over during "boring" driving while still retaining control of the car for “pleasure driving.”
Car "driving enthusiasts" will always be able to find places to fill their driving needs
I believe so too. The automobile replaced the horse and carriage as the main method of transportation, but many people still ride horses for sport and pleasure. If self driving cars are the future, there will still be a group of people who drive their own cars as a hobby.
I just hope that all happens AFTER my lifetime.
For better or worse, we’re enamored with technology,No, we are not. Worthless trinkets, toys, what is actual today is obsolete tomorrow. There are very few technologies and products out there that combine acceptable levels of usefulness and practicality.
The rest is just pure, mindless consumerism. One cannot take one's Android or iPhone to one's grave. No wonder that Buddhist monks divest themselves from all material posessions, for they figured out it is all worthless and a prison for one's mind. Makes one happy today, unhappy tomorrow, always wanting for more.
"Things" can give you temporary feelings of happiness, and there is nothing wrong with that, but true happiness only comes from inside. The only way to achieve that is by being a good person, being happy with who you are, helping others and "doing unto others as you would have done to yourself".
If you aren't true to the above, you will never know true happiness. It is sad, but most never get to feel it, those will be the ones clicking the thumbs down, and I feel sorry for them.
Car "driving enthusiasts" will always be able to find places to fill their driving needs but if the car itself is proven to be the better driver "manual drivers" need to let the car have control.
Those that would disagree probably never lost a loved one to an accident that was senseless and/or the result of someone driving while distracted or under the influence.
EXPLORE NEW CARS
MORE ON MSN AUTOS
ABOUT EXHAUST NOTES
Cars are cool, and here at MSN Autos we love everything about them, but we also know they're more than simply speed and style: a car is an essential tool, a much-needed accessory to help you get through your day-to-day life. What you drive is also one of the most important investments you can make, so we'll help you navigate your way through the car buying and ownership experiences. We strive to be your daily destination for news, notes, tips and tricks from across the automotive world. So whether it's through original content from our world-class journalists or the latest buzz from the far corners of the Web, Exhaust Notes helps you make sense of your automotive world.
Have a story idea? Tip us off at firstname.lastname@example.org.