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Emerging Automotive Features Garner Strong Interest from Consumers at Expected Market Prices

December 3, 2003

Five of the top seven emerging automotive features of interest to consumers also elicit relatively high purchase consideration at their expected market price, according to J.D. Power and Associates 2003 U.S. Automotive Emerging Technologies Study(SM) released Dec. 3.Among technologies included in the study, adaptive headlights at $100, anti-whiplash seats at $300, brake-by-wire at $400, heated/cooled seats at $700 and electronic stability control at $600 garner high levels of consideration.Consumers continue to express strong initial interest in night vision and external surround sensing—which provides back-up aid, blind spot warning and lane departure warning—but interest is markedly lower once consumers evaluate their interest at the anticipated prices of $1,800 and $1,500 respectively.Despite the fact that electronic stability control technology is currently available on more than 120 new vehicle models, awareness is low, with fewer than 10 percent of consumers indicating that they are very familiar with this technology. One reason for this lack of knowledge is that this feature is currently marketed under more than 10 different names. “This causes confusion in the marketplace, as consumers aren’t sure what to request on their next vehicle” said Melissa Sauter, director of automotive emerging technologies at J.D. Power and Associates. “More than nine in 10 current electronic stability control owners in this year’s study are interested in purchasing the technology on their next vehicle.”The study shows that modified offerings of other automotive emerging technologies currently installed in vehicles, such as personal assistance safety services (PASS) and digital premium surround sound, could tap potential new market segments. For example, OnStar®, the dominant market player in PASS, currently offers a basic service at a cost of $17 per month and a premium package at $35 per month. While many current PASS subscribers in this year’s study claim that they will renew the service, the vast majority will renew with the basic package. If PASS providers could bring the price point down to $10 per month, approximately one-half of all consumers would be interested in this feature. At $6 per month, nearly 60 percent would be interested.Another feature that could be packaged differently to increase take-rates is digital premium surround sound. Almost one-half of consumers express a desire to enhance their vehicle listening environment with this feature at $400. There is also strong demand for a branded system.“An astonishing 73 percent of respondents who want to purchase this feature at $400 are willing to pay $800 for a branded system, with Bose garnering the greatest interest among brands evaluated,” said Sauter.Consumer acceptance of by-wire technologies has increased since last year. By-wire technologies are electronic control systems replacing the mechanical and hydraulic connections linking the steering wheel, gear shift or pedals with the vehicle’s steering, transmission, throttle or brakes.In the 2002 study, one-third of consumers expressed interest in a drive-by-wire vehicle. Examining the by-wire components separately in the 2003 study reveals that nearly 75 percent of consumers are interested in owning a vehicle with brake-by-wire technology and almost 45 percent want steer-by-wire capability.At the expected market price, consumers express similar interest for four-wheel steering as steer-by-wire although four-wheel steering, at $1,850, is priced almost twice as high. Four-wheel steering is currently available on a few full-size pickups and SUVs in the United States and the study finds owners within these segments are the most interested in this technology.The 2003 U.S. Automotive Emerging Technologies Study is based on responses from more than 21,000 U.S. consumers. The study, also conducted annually in Japan and Europe, is designed to measure consumer familiarity, interest and purchase intent for emerging automotive technologies.About J.D. Power and AssociatesHeadquartered in Westlake Village, Calif., J.D. Power and Associates is an ISO 9001-registered global marketing information services firm operating in business sectors including market research, forecasting, consulting, training and customer satisfaction.The firm’s quality and satisfaction measurements are based on responses from millions of consumers annually.For more information, visit www.jdpower.com.
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