Factory-installed automotive features, such as sound systems, keyless entry systems and security systems, tend to have fewer quality problems than dealer and aftermarket-installed features, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2003 Feature Contenting Report(SM) released Nov. 4. The study provides the automotive industry with an in-depth analysis of vehicle features from the perspective of new-vehicle buyers. It explores what features consumers currently have on their vehicles, which features are in the greatest demand and in which types of vehicles, and what price consumers are willing to pay for those features. Among automotive features available for installation by dealers or aftermarket providers, three were included in the 2003 J.D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Study(SM) -- sound systems, remote keyless entry systems and security systems. For all three, new-vehicle owners reported the fewest number of problems with systems installed by the factory. "The number of consumers who choose to have certain features installed by the dealership or an aftermarket provider has slowly increased over the past few years," said Brian Walters, senior director of product research at J.D. Power and Associates. "Since 2000, the share of sound systems that are installed by the factory has fallen about 3 percentage points, from 93 percent of all sound systems to 90 percent in 2003. Similarly, factory-installed remote keyless entry systems have fallen from 91 percent in 2000 to 88 percent in 2003. While consumers have more options when having systems such as these installed after purchasing their new vehicle, they don't always benefit from the quality control measures in place at the factory." Other Report Highlights
  • Anti-lock brakes have the highest penetration (85 percent) and desirability (92 percent) among consumers among the 50 features covered in the report.

  • Among the traditional features included in the report, new-vehicle buyers are willing to pay the most (a median price of $1,000) for four/all-wheel drive and superchargers/turbochargers, followed by automatic transmission ($600).

  • Traditional features with the greatest growth potential include multi-CD changers and reverse tilting passenger mirrors, both of which have the potential to grow as much as 30 percent.

  • Among emerging features, safety-related features figure prominently. Side impact airbags, "smart" passenger airbags, stability control and traction control have the highest penetration and desirability. The greatest growth potential is in brake assist, stability control, run-flat tires, "smart" passenger airbags and tire pressure monitors.

  • Although it may not be widely available until 2010, the fuel cell engine has the highest desirability (44 percent) among consumers of the three alternative propulsion technologies included in the report. Next is the combination fuel/electric or hybrid engine (29 percent desirability), followed by the clean diesel engine (13 percent). However, the prices consumers are willing to pay for this technology do not approach the retail prices manufacturers are charging. Consumers are only willing to pay between $600 and $1,000 for these new alternative propulsion features, whereas the Honda Civic Hybrid Sedan is approximately $4,500 more than a similarly equipped gasoline-powered Civic LX Sedan.

  • The demand for several features has increased dramatically since 1999: steering wheel controls (up 32 percent over 1999), heated front seats (up 16 percent), multi-CD changer (up 13 percent), power passenger seat (up 12 percent) and navigation systems (up 11 percent).

    The 2003 Feature Contenting Report is based on the responses from 102,975 owners of new 2003 and early-release 2004 model-year vehicles. About J.D. Power and Associates Headquartered 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.