It used to not be such a big deal to buy a car and drive it for several years without feeling that much is missing. There were advances, of course, but models were more or less similar from year to year.
That was then; this is now: In its annual survey of what vehicle owners want in their next car, J.D. Power and Associates says there’s a lot of interest in device and application linking for smartphones, wireless connectivity, natural language voice activation, a various infotainment features. Compare that list to what your first car contained.
More than 67 percent of vehicle owners surveyed have a smartphone, and they want to be able to use it in their car with the same ease and functionality they’ve become accustomed two in their personal or business life. A challenge, though, is that many owners keep their cars for more than five years, and software upgrades for device linking technology lags behind the introduction of new smartphones. That seems to be changing fairly rapidly, though.
“Automakers have an important opportunity to gain a competitive advantage by working side by side with smartphone and application developers to provide a seamless smartphone experience for in-vehicle control of GPS/mapping, music, weather, search tools, travel and more,” says Mike VanNieuwkuyk, J.D. Power’s executive director of global automotive.
Vehicle owners in Generation Y (born 1977-1995) are more likely to be interested in device application linking technology at every price level, but the largest interest increases from 2012 are among Early Boomers (born between 1947 and 1953), increasing 7 percentage points pre-price and 14 percentage points at $250), which indicates high potential to purchase this technology.
Car owners also want to know how they’re doing with fuel economy. Nearly 80 percent would like a fuel economy indicator in their next car and that number only dropped to 72 percent when a $50 price tag was added to the feature. Another item on the wish list relating to fuel economy is active shutter grille vents, which reduce aerodynamic drag by keeping unneeded air out of the engine compartment. Interest in the vents dropped by 15 points (76 percent to 61 percent) when the price was set at $150, but the post price tag drops for those two economy-related items were among the lowest in the survey.