Potential vehicle buyers show considerably more interest in new
safety-related features than in entertainment, comfort or convenience
features, according to the recently released J.D. Power and Associates
2002 U.S. Automotive Emerging Technologies Study.
Annually, J.D. Power and Associates asks for consumer feedback on a
select list of new and emerging automotive features to assist
manufacturers in better understanding which features are most desired
and how much value consumers place on each feature.
Among the 25 features measured in the 2002 study, nine of the top
10 most-desired features are designed to enhance vehicle or occupant
safety. The low-tire pressure monitor, an electronic sensing system that
monitors a vehicle’s tire pressure and alerts the driver when tire
pressure is low and potentially unsafe, is the most popular feature
“Given the high level of interest U.S. consumers also had with
run-flat tires, it is clear that they have concerns about the safety of
their tires and are looking for technological advancements to alleviate
some of the fear generated by high-profile tire recalls,” said Jeremy
Bowler, senior research manager at J.D. Power and Associates.
Other safety-related features at the top of consumers’ lists
include anti-whiplash seats, which are designed to reduce injuries
associated with whiplash by automatically repositioning the seat during a
collision to provide support to the occupant’s head. Also popular among
consumers is a night-vision system that uses infrared technology to
help drivers see objects at night or in poor-visibility conditions.
External surround sensing, vehicle stability control, adaptive
cruise control and headlight systems that adapt to current driving
conditions are also safety-related features in which consumers showed
“Unlike airbags and seat belts that help protect vehicle occupants
after an accident has taken place, the majority of safety-related
features that consumers most desire actively assist the driver in
avoiding an accident in the first place,” said Bowler. “However,
consumers will only pay so much for such features. Interest levels drop
on nearly all of the features measured, once consumers are shown the
likely price of that feature on their next vehicle. For example, while
night vision is one of the most desired features in the study before
price is introduced, it plummets to near the bottom of the list when
consumers are shown the current market price of $1,800,” he explained.
Consumers also express a strong interest in driver-recognition
systems and advanced temperature-management systems that maintain a
constant pre-set temperature in the vehicle, much like a home’s
thermostat. Older consumers are more likely to show interest in