A global survey on consumer preferences for automotive technology conducted by IHS Markit has revealed that more consumers want advanced technology in their next new vehicle. However, willingness to pay for the technology varies and demonstrates different viewpoints from consumers across leading global markets.

More than 5,000 vehicle owners intending to purchase a new vehicle within the next 36 months were surveyed in the 2017 Automotive Connected Services and Apps Consumer Analysis, representing five key automotive markets—the U.S., Canada, China, Germany and the United Kingdom. This is the fifth annual survey of its kind conducted by IHS Markit and identified key attributes for consumers, providing insight into preferences, desires and future interest as new vehicle intenders return to market.

“This year’s survey includes consumer input on 31 technologies, from a variety of viewpoints,” said Colin Bird, automotive technology analyst for IHS Markit and co-author of the report. “Suppliers and automakers alike will be able to use these findings to help drive future business decisions and technology investments, while determining future product offerings.”

People want to be comfortable

Interestingly, creature comforts topped the list of technologies consumers are willing to pay for. Consumers in four regions reported the highest propensity to invest in sunroof-moonroof technology in their new vehicle, with consumers in Germany willing to spend an additional $642 to have their next new vehicle equipped with one. Consumers surveyed in China agreed to pay $440 for similar technology.

Alternatively, consumers in the US were most likely to pay for a rear-seat entertainment system, indicating a threshold investment of an estimated $640. Rear-seat entertainment ranked second for UK and China audiences, with a price point of $388, but did not resonate as a top choice by consumers in any other region included in the survey.

According to IHS Markit forecasts, by 2022, significant volumes of new vehicles will be equipped with telematics (87% US; 91% German; 92% UK; 89% Canadian; and 54% of Chinese vehicles) and more than half of the global fleet of vehicles in operation will be connected.

In comparison, 32% of all respondents surveyed agreed that telematics would be a feature they would be willing to pay for in their next new vehicle, and in-car Wi-Fi was noted by 29%. However, when asked about cost, both of these technologies were mentioned with a much lower price point by consumers willing to pay for them and different price points that varied by region.

20170620_EETA_IHS_01 Figure 1: Summary of the survey results on how much consumers want to pay for telematics and in-vehicle Wi-Fi. (Source: IHS Markit)

People also want to be safe

More than half of all respondents indicated they already have at least one vehicle that featured an infotainment or navigation system that offered features such as roadside assistance, stolen vehicle assistance, crash notification or turn-by-turn navigation. These features garnered the most interest for future vehicles as well, across all geographies. Of the respondents, 32% indicated roadside assistance as the most important telematics feature in a new vehicle, while stolen vehicle assistance was important to 28% of the respondents.

Automatic crash notification and turn-by-turn navigation were both preferred by one quarter of the respondents. In addition, the inclusion of real-time traffic information was overwhelmingly preferred by 51% of the total respondents, with dynamic routing and a desire for maps to be updated wirelessly based on current conditions were preferred by 41% for routing and 36% for wireless updates, respectively.

For consumers surveyed in China, however, remote vehicle control from a smartphone was the most popular feature, with 39% of respondents in the region indicating that feature was most important to them. Respondents in China represented a slightly younger demographic than in other countries, with the vast majority living in urban centres where technology was more widely accepted.

Opportunities for integrated apps

As in-vehicle technology continues its growth trajectory, so does consumers' desire to integrate their mobile apps into their vehicle. Among those surveyed, nearly all consumers who had familiarity with replicating their smartphone system onto an in-vehicle display indicated they were interested or somewhat interested in having this feature in their next new vehicle.

In addition, nearly half of all respondents indicated navigation apps as the leading use of smartphone apps in the vehicle. Weather apps followed with 40% of respondents using them in the vehicle, and 36% of respondents use music apps while in their vehicle. This creates significant opportunity for screen projection solutions, such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

“Consumers expect a lot from their next vehicle,” Bird said. “Their expectations are constantly evolving as well, as consumers expect development and implementation of these technologies in vehicles to be introduced as quickly as consumer electronics such as smartphones and tablets. It’s up to OEMs and suppliers to determine how to best address these challenges and ramp up business plans accordingly.”