Consumers are voicing concerns about distractions while operating their vehicles, particularly those associated with dialing a cell phone, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2001 Automotive Emerging Technologies Study(SM) released Aug. 2. “About two-thirds of drivers consider dialing a cell phone to be very distracting,” said Jeff Taylor, senior manager at J.D. Power and Associates. “They want information that will help them while driving without increasing their level of distraction. Using an in-vehicle personal assistance service(1), which can be activated with a push of a button, is viewed as less distracting than most other activities. When they need information, they appreciate features like roadside assistance, vehicle diagnostic advice(2) and real-time traffic and navigation information.” The report, now in its second year, also shows that consumers want safety related features more than sophisticated entertainment systems or other convenience features in their new vehicles. According to the study, nearly seven out of eight consumers put run-flat tires and side-window security glass(3) at the top of their list of emerging features they would like to have in their next vehicle. Study respondents also express interest in “intelligent” vehicle capabilities. “These intelligent systems identify a specific driver and automatically set control positions, such as seat, mirror and temperature adjustments,” Taylor said. With the number of automotive technologies growing rapidly, Taylor recommends that manufacturers take care to match the right features with the right audience. “We continue to see strong interest among parents for options that keep children entertained in the vehicle,” Taylor said. “While manufacturers have heavily promoted rear-seat entertainment in compact vans, there is a small but growing audience for this technology in many vehicle segments, particularly in sport utility vehicles.” Generation Y consumers(4), who express much higher interest in audio-related features, want satellite radio and the ability to play MP3(5) files to a much greater degree than do other age groups, according to the study. The Automotive Emerging Technology Study is the first is a series of reports on these subjects in 2001. In October, J.D. Power and Associates will issue a second report that evaluates additional emerging technologies, and a third report in December will concentrate on European consumer interest in emerging technologies. Responses from nearly than 13,000 consumers who have purchased or leased a new car or light truck were included in the study, which was conducted in June. The survey is designed to measure consumer familiarity, interests and purchase intent for emerging automotive technologies. About J.D. Power and Associates Headquartered in Agoura Hills, Calif., J.D. Power and Associates is a global marketing information services firm operating in key business sectors including market research, forecasting, consulting, training and customer satisfaction. The firm’s quality and satisfaction measurements are based on actual responses from millions of consumers annually. J.D. Power and Associates can be assessed through the Internet at Footnotes (1) An in-vehicle personal assistance service provides two-way communication between the driver and a “live” person at an independent response call center for assistance. (2) Vehicle diagnostic advice detects vehicle problems and recommends maintenance when needed. (3) Side-window security glass is stronger and more shatter resistant than regular auto glass. (4) Generation Y consumers are defined as those between the age of 16 and 25. (5) MP3 is an electronic music format popular among computer users.