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J.D. Power Study: More Car Owners Seek Driving-Assist Features

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Spotlight | Autonomous DrivingA recent study shows that vehicle owners are more interested than ever in having driving-assist features in their vehicles. According to a press release, the “2012 U.S. Automotive Emerging Technologies Study” by J.D. Power and Associates was published on Thursday and measures the interest of vehicle owners in emerging auto technologies and their intent to buy them.

The study — conducted by the Westlake Village, California-based global marketing information services company in March 2012 — is based on responses from more than 17,400 vehicle owners. They were asked about 23 primary technologies, each with related secondary technologies.

Researchers analyzed device connectivity, navigations, auto safety, and premium sound systems. The study also contained a “key emerging technologies packaging exercise; an emerging technologies adoption calculator; and expanded psychographic and lifestyle-driven content.”

As the International Business Times (IBT) reported yesterday:

The public seems open to the idea of purchasing cars with self-driving capabilities. A survey by J.D. Power and Associates, released on April 26, shows that 37 percent of consumers ‘definitely would’ or ‘probably would’ buy the technology for their next vehicle. That number dropped to 20 percent when consumers learned that it might cost about $3000.

This is a significant level of interest for a feature that is still in the developmental stage.

The J.D. Power and Associates press release reports that vehicle owners are “nearly” as likely to buy fully autonomous driving mode systems as to purchase the less expensive semi-autonomous driving technologies such as emergency stop assist ($800), traffic jam assist ($800), or speed limit assist ($800).

Mike VanNieuwkuyk, executive director of global automotive at J.D. Power and Associates, said: “Consumers are still learning about how autonomous driving technology could be used in their vehicles. Many owners are skeptical about releasing control of their vehicle and would like to see the technology proved out before they adopt it.”

The study shows that the vehicle owners with the greatest interest in fully autonomous driving “at market prices” are males (25%), those between the ages of 18 and 37 (30%), and those living in urban areas (30%). The study also finds that those vehicle owners who are interested in an automatic parallel parking feature have a high degree of interest (41%) in fully autonomous driving systems.

The press release says:

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 IBT article quotes Anthony Levandowski, a product manager for Google, as saying that “Every year we don’t have this [driverless car] technology built, more people die.” IBT goes on to say:

This has been Google’s main narrative in its push for driverless technology: self-driving cars can make our roads safer. The automobiles use lasers, radar sensors, cameras, GPS and other tools to keep track of variables like surrounding cars, weather conditions and traffic signs. And unlike humans, automated systems never fall asleep, drive drunk or get distracted by a text messages.

This idea is supported by statistics. Popular Science reports that ‘as safety technologies like antilock brakes and traction-control systems have taken hold, the number of fatal accidents has dropped 35 percent between 1970 and 2009, even though cars drive more than a trillion miles farther annually.’

Image by J.D. Power and Associates, used under Fair Use: Reporting.


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