SAFETY TECH INTEREST TOPS INFOTAINMENT
The youngest car buyers are the most willing to pay up for in-car technology, according to the J.D. Power 2015 U.S. Tech Choice Study. In fact, members of Generation Y (born 1977-1994) are willing to pay an average of $3,703 on tech for their next vehicle—nearly twice as much as the oldest group, Pre-Boomers (born before 1946), at $2,067.
And if you’re assuming that young buyers are primarily interested infotainment tech, think again. Despite all the hype, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto got only “lukewarm interest” across all ages. What has car buyers interested most in for their next vehicle are blind spot detection and prevention systems; night vision; and enhanced collision mitigation systems. In other words, people really are interested in safety features. Also, they’re more accepting—at least younger drivers are—of the concept of turning over critical functions such as braking and steering to technology—and those are the foundational building blocks leading to the predicted fully self-driving cars.
As with so many things, cost matters. J.D. Power says across all generations price is the most important consideration for technology, accounting for 25.2% of importance. Gen Y is the least sensitive to technology price and shows a greater willingness to spend on new technologies than the other generations. Gen Y consumers, who have accounted for 27.7% of new-vehicle sales thus far in 2015—second only to Boomers (born 1946-1964) at 37.1%—are willing to spend an average of $3,703 on technology for their next vehicle. Gen X is willing to spend $3,007, while Boomers, who show the greatest price sensitivity, and Pre-Boomers are willing to spend only $2,416 and $2,067, respectively.
And while the study found plenty of car buyer interest in safety tech, it found relatively little interest in energy efficiency technologies such as active shutter grill vents and solar glass roofs. J.D. Power’s Kristin Kolodge says people aren’t as enthusiastic because automakers are doing other things to improve fuel economy and gasoline prices are relatively low.
Kolodge noted that luxury car owners tend to have Apple iOS devices, so they prefer Apple CarPlay if they are among those interested in infotainment tech. For non-luxury brands there’s more of an even split between iOS and Android preferences.
When it comes to self-driving automation technology designed to perform safety-critical driving functions and monitor roadway conditions, the younger generations (Gen Y and Gen X) have substantially higher preference for the technology than the older generations (Boomer and Pre-Boomer). The Pre-Boomer generation, in contrast, has a greater preference for lower levels of automation, such as traffic jam assist.
Advanced sensor technologies, such as hand gesture controlled seats, biometric driver sensors or haptic touch screens have low preference. And technologies in the navigation category have low preference across all vehicle price segments.
The 2015 U.S. Tech Choice Study was fielded in January through March 2015 and is based on an online survey of more than 5,300 consumers who purchased/leased a new vehicle in the past five years.