A new study by J.D. Power and Associates found that 20 percent of all drivers would strongly consider purchasing some sort of autonomous feature in their next vehicle, while nearly as many showed a strong interest in fully autonomous (self-driving) cars. Out of the individual autonomous car technologies, the Emergency Stop Assist was the most popular. This is the technology that prevents distracted drivers from backing into poles, other cars or pedestrians. The Traffic Jam Assist, set to preview in Honda’s outdoor laboratories this summer, came in at second place while Speed Limit Assist was on the back burner for most drivers.

Price plays a factor as well, as the percentage of interest dips when drivers are informed that semi-autonomous and autonomous technologies can cost up to an additional $3,000. Furthermore, “Many owners are skeptical about releasing control of their vehicle and would like to see the technology proved out before they adopt it,” says Mike VanNieuwkuyk, executive director of global automotive at J.D. Power and Associates.

Also litmus tested was the interest pertaining to in-car technologies such as LED headlights, HD radio and wireless connectivity. Check out the full press release after the infographic. (click for a larger view)



J.D. Power and Associates Reports:
Vehicle Owners Show Willingness to Spend on Automotive Infotainment Features

Autonomous Driving Technology Piques Interest of Premium Vehicle Owners

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif.: 26 April 2012 — Vehicle owners have come to expect additional safety features and are now turning their attention more to infotainment technologies in their vehicle, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2012 U.S. Automotive Emerging Technologies StudySM released today.

The study measures vehicle owner interest and purchase intent for emerging automotive technologies, both before and after market price is revealed. The top-five considered technologies–based on vehicle owners who indicate that they “definitely” or “probably” would purchase in their next vehicle–both pre-price and at market price are:

Pre-Price Feature Interest
Light emitting diode (LED) headlights     70%
Natural language voice-activation    69%
Next-generation head-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%

Not unexpectedly, purchase interest declines across all features when a price is introduced.

“While vehicle owners remain very interested in technologies that make their vehicle safer, they are turning their attention more and more toward features and technologies that allow them to be productive, connected and entertained while in their vehicles,” said Mike VanNieuwkuyk, executive director of global automotive at J.D. Power and Associates. “Given the variety of interests from consumers, automakers will be challenged to pursue technologies that fit their consumer’s interests in order to attract them to their products.”

Autonomous Driving–Polarizing Views on Value One of the newest, and the most expensive, technologies included in this study is autonomous driving mode–a feature that allows the vehicle to take control of acceleration, braking and steering, without any human interaction. While this technology is still being developed and tested, 20 percent of all vehicle owners say they “definitely would” or “probably would” purchase it in their next vehicle after learning the estimated market price of $3,000.  Prior to learning the price, interest for this technology was at 37 percent.

The study finds that vehicle owners are nearly as likely to select fully autonomous driving mode as they are to select semi-autonomous driving technologies such as emergency stop assist ($800), traffic jam assist ($800) or speed limit assist ($800).

“Consumers are still learning about how autonomous driving technology could be used in their vehicles,” said VanNieuwkuyk. “Many owners are skeptical about releasing control of their vehicle and would like to see the technology proved out before they adopt it.” Vehicle owners with the highest interest in fully autonomous driving at market price are males (25%), those between the ages of 18 and 37 (30%), and those living in urban areas (30%).  The study also finds a high degree of interest (41%) in fully autonomous driving among vehicle owners who expressed interest in the automatic parallel parking feature, further illustrating similar interest in both semi-autonomous and fully autonomous driving modes.

Interest in autonomous driving mode differs among premium and non-premium vehicle owners. After learning the price, interest in the feature is at 18 percent among non-premium vehicle owners and at 31 percent among premium owners.

Research conducted   by J.D. Power’s Consumer Insight and Strategy Group to track social media activity regarding autonomous driving finds that online sentiment is generally positive. While some vehicle owners perceive the benefit of autonomous driving as taking the control away from careless, distracted drivers, others see it as an opportunity to be free and to enjoy the time while traveling. However, auto enthusiasts see autonomous driving as the loss of status and would not want to give up the pleasure of driving.

Other social media research findings include:

  • Many drivers believe that autonomous driving is an emerging trend, but is still far off in daily use primarily due to legal barriers and real-life implementation hurdles.
  • Drivers would want the option for autonomy during times of “boring” driving, such as commuting to and from work, highway driving, going to the store or finding a parking space, but want to take control for pleasure driving or manual maneuvering.
  • Given consumer expectation that an autonomous vehicle will cost more upfront and also to maintain than a traditional vehicle, some consumers envision the potential for vehicle-sharing programs with neighbors or within families as a means to offset these costs.

The 2012 U.S. Automotive Emerging Technologies Study is based on responses from more than 17,400 vehicle owners. The study was fielded in March 2012. The study includes 23 primary technologies, each with related secondary technologies; analyses on device connectivity, navigation, safety and premium sound systems; a key emerging technologies packaging exercise; an emerging technologies adoption calculator; and expanded psychographic and lifestyle-driven content.[press_end]