VIDEO: Study Shows Drivers Most Prefer Crash Protection Tech 

Three of the top five technologies that consumers would most prefer in their next vehicle are related to collision protection, according to a new study from J.D. Power.

Among the technologies consumers expressed the most interest in having in their next vehicle were blind spot detection and prevention systems, night vision, and enhanced collision mitigation systems, the J.D. Power 2015 U.S. Tech Choice Study found. Technologies that reduce the overall burden of driving and enhance vehicle safety attracted the most consumer attention.

These findings show growing acceptance for a relatively new concept for drivers — allowing the vehicle to assume critical functions, such as braking and steering. This driver willingness to relinquish such control is crucial to the future success of fully autonomous driving, researchers noted.

The only non-collision protection technologies to crack the top five were camera rearview mirror, which fell into the driving assistance category, and self-healing paint, a comfort and convenience category feature.

The new study used advanced statistical methodologies to measure preference for, and perceived value of, future and emerging technologies. A total of 59 advanced vehicle features were examined across six major categories: entertainment and connectivity, comfort and convenience, collision protection, driving assistance, navigation, and energy efficiency.

"There is a tremendous interest in collision protection technologies across all generations, which creates opportunities across the market," said Kristin Kolodge, executive director of driver interaction and HMI research at J.D. Power. "In contrast, there is very little interest in energy efficiency technologies such as active shutter grille vents and solar glass roofs. Owners aren’t as enthusiastic about having these technologies in their next vehicle because of other efforts automakers are taking to improve fuel economy, as well as relatively low fuel prices at the present time."

Smartphones play an increasingly vital role in everyday life, and vehicle technology is beginning to mirror what’s offered on those devices. However, Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto technologies consistently drew among the lowest preference scores across all generations.

Consumer preferences for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto were uniquely dependent on which smartphone the survey participants owned. Those who owned a smartphone compatible with one of these technologies would choose the technology compatible with their phone at only a moderate rate, while those with the opposite brand of smartphone rarely, if ever, would choose that technology.

For example, Android owners indicated that Apple CarPlay is unacceptable nearly twice as often as they indicated that a solar glass roof is unacceptable. Similarly, Apple phone owners indicated that Android Auto is unacceptable nearly twice as often as a solar glass roof.

Kolodge noted that "lukewarm interest in these technologies that connect your phone to your vehicle, coupled with consumer loyalty to their phone, poses a unique challenge for automakers, which could be remedied by knowing their customers' phone preferences."

Owners of luxury vehicles tend to own iOS devices, research shows. As a result, for many luxury brands, Apple CarPlay may be the best option to offer – even though this may be leaving out a portion of the market.

"For non-luxury vehicle brands, the ownership of Apple and Android devices is much closer to an equal split. The solution for those brands may be to offer both operating systems and allow customers to select the option best suited for them," Kolodge said.

Photo of blind spot monitoring system courtesy of Toyota.

Photo of blind spot monitoring system courtesy of Toyota.

Other key findings of the study include:

  • Full self-driving automation technology, part of the collision protection category, is designed to perform all safety-critical driving functions and monitor roadway conditions. The younger generations (Gen Y and Gen X) had substantially higher preference for the technology than the older generations (Boomer and Pre-Boomer). The Pre-Boomer generation, in contrast, had a greater preference for lower levels of automation, such as traffic jam assist.
  • Blind spot detection and prevention drew high preference across the range of vehicle price segments. In contrast, reverse auto braking systems had low preference across the vehicle price segments and preference waned as vehicle prices increased.
  • Advanced sensor technologies, such as hand gesture controlled seats, biometric driver sensors or haptic touch screens, drew low preference.Technologies in the navigation category had low preference across all vehicle price segments.

The 2015 U.S. Tech Choice Study, fielded in January through March 2015, was based on an online survey of more than 5,300 consumers who purchased or leased a new vehicle in the past five years.

To view a video about the study's findings, click on the link or photo below the headline.