Consumers show considerably more interest in newsafety-related features than in entertainment, comfort or conveniencefeatures, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2002 U.S. AutomotiveEmerging Technologies Study.On an annual basis, J.D. Power and Associates solicits consumer feedback ona select list of new and emerging automotive features to assistmanufacturers in better understanding which features are most desired andhow much value consumers place on each feature. According to the study, among the 25 features measured in the 2002 study, nine of the top 10 mostdesired features are designed to enhance vehicle or occupant safety. Thelow-tire-pressure monitor, an electronic sensing system that monitors thevehicle's tire pressure and alerts the driver when tire pressure is low andpotentially unsafe, is the most popular feature measured. "Given the high level of interest U.S. consumers also had with run-flattires, it is clear that they have concerns about the safety of their tiresand are looking for technological advancements to alleviate some of the feargenerated by high-profile tire recalls," said Jeremy Bowler, senior researchmanager at J.D. Power and Associates.Other safety-related features at the top of consumers' lists includeanti-whiplash seats, which are designed to reduce injuries associated withwhiplash by automatically repositioning the seat during a collision toprovide support to the occupant's head. Also popular among consumers is anight vision system that uses infrared technology to help drivers seeobjects at night or in poor visibility conditions.External surround sensing, vehicle stability control, adaptive cruisecontrol and headlight systems that adapt to current driving conditions arealso safety-related features in which consumers showed strong interest. "Unlike airbags and seat belts that help protect vehicle occupants after anaccident has taken place, the majority of safety-related features thatconsumers most desire actively assist the driver in avoiding an accident inthe first place," said Bowler. "However, consumers will only pay so much forsuch features. Interest levels drop on nearly all of the features measuredonce consumers are shown the likely price of that feature on their nextvehicle. For example, while night vision is one of the most desired featuresin the study before price is introduced, it plummets to near the bottom ofthe list when consumers are shown the current market price of $1,800."Among the non-safety-related features measured, consumers are mostinterested in digital premium surround sound in their vehicles, made popularin home theater systems. Consumers also express a strong interest indriver-recognition systems and advanced temperature-management systems thatmaintain a constant preset temperature in the vehicle much like a home'sthermostat."Imagine heading out in a 90 degree day and leaving your vehicle parked fortwo hours on an asphalt parking lot while you go shopping, then returning toyour vehicle without the need to roll down the windows, open the doors andwait for the air conditioning to kick in," said Bowler.The 2002 U.S. Automotive Emerging Technologies Study includes responses from22,362 owners who have purchased or leased a new car or light truck in thepast three years. The study is designed to measure consumer familiarity,interest and purchase intent for emerging automotive technologies.Headquartered in Westlake Village, Calif., J.D. Power and Associates is anISO 9001-registered global marketing information services firm operating inkey business sectors including market research, forecasting, consulting,training and customer satisfaction. The firm's quality and satisfactionmeasurements are based on responses from millions of consumers annually.