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Connected vehicles: Hot? Or not?

July 25, 2016
Will consumers demand to buy connected vehicles?

Well here’s an interesting tidbit: According to IHS Automotive, 55% of annual global new vehicle sales in 2020 will be vehicles that are connected – and, by that year, nearly half of the global fleet of vehicles in operation will be connected as well.

That’s not too surprising, considering that the trucking industry seems to be a following a similar pathway, with Cummins the latest to introduce a batch of “connected” features for its new 2017-compliant truck engines.

But back to cars for a minute: IHS Automotive’s most recent global consumer survey, Connected Cars, indicates that new advanced technologies and increased connectivity are what’s driving “consumer preferences” as they shop for new vehicles.

However – and this is a major sticking point – few seem willing to pay more money for them.

[Sound familiar? The same sentiment holds true for delivery of goods purchased online. But I digress …]

The survey polled over 4,000 vehicle owners planning to purchase a new vehicle within the next 36 months in four key automotive markets: the U.S., China, Germany and the United Kingdom.

So what are those “must-have” connected systems from the perspective of everyday motorists? Here’s what IHS Automotive found:

  • ADAS leads consumer preferences: While advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) are most desirable among global survey respondents, consumers do not want to pay for these advancements. Traditionally packaged within vehicles as part of optional features like leather seats and high-end infotainment systems, consumers expect advanced safety systems to be included in new vehicles at no charge, IHS found, since electronic stability control (ESC) systems and pre-charged brakes have become standard equipment on a global scale. Interestingly, U.S. consumers seem the most willing to pay for ADAS features, indicating they would be willing to spend between $427 and $505 at the time of vehicle purchase, depending on the feature, with consumers in the other three regions less willing to pay market prices for such technologies in their next vehicle.
  • Software updates are worth paying for: Some 74% of consumers polled by IHS who currently own a vehicle with an infotainment system are willing to pay for software updates that improve or add functionality to their vehicle, and the response was universally global. In the U.S., 89% of millennials surveyed indicated they would pay for a software update – and more than 90% of millennials in China agreed they would be willing to pay such updates.
  • Navigation apps are the most popular for in-car smartphone use: When using smartphones in vehicles, the most often-used application of “app” by consumers while in their vehicle are those intended for navigation, as indicated by 52% of all those IHS polled. Apps for weather were second at 41% with 37% of those polled highlighting the use of music and news apps while in their vehicles. Navigation apps are particularly popular in China, with 56% of respondents using this, compared to respondents in Germany (55%) and in the U.S. (54%). In China’s case, IHS said the breakneck construction of new roads and highways likely makes drivers more dependent on navigation apps.
  • Autonomy preferences vary, though millennials are onboard: Nearly one third of survey respondents in all age categories indicated they would ride in a self-driving vehicle as well as purchase one. (Impertinent editorial addendum: I suspect this number may be lower when buyers are actually faced with the prospect of buying a “self-driving” vehicle). An additional 25% suggested that while they would indeed ride in one, they would not purchase one. Yet millennials seem “excited” about autonomous vehicles, with than half saying they are ready to be driven in one and would purchase one. IHS Automotive also said its most recent forecasts indicate 21 million vehicles with some form of autonomy will be sold in 2035, and with substantial growth between now and then, it is possible millennials could make up a large share of the initial customer base for these advanced vehicles.

Again, all of the above is from research conducted with motorists, not truck drivers, who undoubtedly have strong reservations about a technology designed – in the view of many – to replace them in the long run. We’ll see how all of this develops.

About the Author

Sean Kilcarr 1 | Senior Editor

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