With increased environmental concerns among Japanese consumers, hybrid electric vehicles are garnering high levels of interest, according to the J.D. Power Asia Pacific 2003 Japan Automotive Emerging Technologies Study(SM) released Sept. 26. This study, now in its second year, assesses consumer familiarity, interest and purchase intent of various emerging technologies that are currently offered on some vehicles or will soon be offered in Japan. J.D. Power and Associates also conducts similar studies in the United States and Europe. The study finds that 63 percent of Japanese consumers say they are "definitely" or "probably" interested in hybrid electric vehicles. Hybrid electric vehicles follows navigation and night vision systems as the top technologies that interest consumers. "The high publicity of hybrid electric vehicles in Japan has shaped positive perceptions on these vehicles among consumers," said Namio Hasumi, president and CEO of J.D. Power Asia Pacific. "In particular, older consumers are paying more attention to these environmentally friendly vehicles." In addition, Japanese consumers tend to rate safety-related technologies high overall, such as night vision, external surround sensing and brake-by-wire systems. Although new technologies seem to attract many consumers, interest in all features covered in this study drop by some degree when a realistic price point is attached to a given feature. Most notably, while night vision systems garner the second-highest level of interest among all emerging technologies, interest drops by a large margin when a realistic price point is revealed, especially with external surround sensing, navigation systems and night vision systems. "Although safety features have become more appealing to consumers and increased awareness of the benefits have heightened consumer interest, the high prices of some newly available technologies may deter consumers from purchasing these technologies for their next vehicle," said Hasumi. Among the technologies examined, consumers are most familiar with electronic toll collection, with 55 percent of consumers reporting awareness of this feature. Electronic toll collection was introduced by the Japanese government as a means of controlling traffic congestion on Japan's major highways. Almost as many consumers are aware of navigation systems. However, awareness levels for the remaining features fall sharply, especially in the case of driver recognition, smart sensing windows and brake-by-wire features, for which less than 5 percent of consumers report familiarity. The 2003 Japan Automotive Emerging Technologies Study is based on responses from 8,328 consumers in Japan who purchased or leased a new vehicle within the last six years. About J.D. Power Asia Pacific J.D. Power Asia Pacific, established in 1990, conducts customer satisfaction research and provides consulting services in the automotive, information technology and finance industries. Information regarding J.D. Power Asia Pacific and its products can be accessed through the Internet at www.jdpower.co.jp. About J.D. Power and Associates Headquartered in Westlake Village, Calif., J.D. Power and Associates is a 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.