Technology now trumps brand loyalty for carbuyers

In-car technology is now a major element of the decision-making process. — AFP-Relaxnews pic
In-car technology is now a major element of the decision-making process. — AFP-Relaxnews pic

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LOS ANGELES, Nov 20 — Consumers have started placing such a high premium on in-car technology that they’re prepared to switch brands in order to get the features they want.

According to a new KS&R survey commissioned by Autotrader in the US and published to coincide with the LA Auto Show, almost two thirds of consumers in the market for a new set of wheels would be willing to consider a different marque if the standard of technology on offer in their preferred car was lacking.

In fact, nine out of 10 drivers who are getting ready to buy a new car in the coming months have already started researching carmakers’ latest tech offerings, particularly in terms of entertainment and driver aids.

“In-vehicle technology ranks increasingly higher for consumers as they consider must-have and desired features in their car shopping,” said Michelle Krebs, Autotrader senior analyst. “That puts automakers under intense pressure to anticipate and offer the technologies consumers desire, or they risk losing them to a brand that delivers.”

Over half — 59 per cent — of the 1,012 US vehicle owners surveyed said that cruise control was a must-have feature on their next car, while 59 per cent singled out diagnostic alerts and 49 per cent integrated USB charging ports.

Carmakers are increasingly focusing on infotainment, hand-free systems, web connectivity and mirroring actions that exist on smartphones.

And while over half of respondents (53 per cent) said they believed a car can be judged as being a luxury or non-luxury by the quality of its infotainment system and the choice of technologies on offer, the Autotrader study is the latest of many recent surveys to highlight that consumers clearly have doubts about the benefits of systems that simply offer an alternative to the apps and features that are already on their smartphones.

For example, 67 per cent thought that access to music streaming via the dashboard would be a “nice to have” feature (up from 12 per cent in last year’s study) and 61 per cent said they wish their current car had a wi-fi hotspot (just 16 per cent in 2014). However, 39 per cent said they prefer using the navigation system on their smartphone to the ones integrated into cars.

Therefore, the fact that 57 per cent said that carmakers should focus on better in-car smartphone integration shouldn't come as a surprise. — AFP-Relaxnews

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