U.S. buyers ready to pay most for built-in vehicle technology, study says

Global automotive consumers show interest in having advanced technology in their next vehicle, but U.S. drivers are willing to pay the highest price, according to an IHS Markit survey.

About one in 3 drivers surveyed in the annual Automotive Connected Services and Apps Consumer Analysis said they would pay for telematics, such as OnStar, and Wi-Fi in future vehicles, preferring it to be included in the manufacturer price.

Five countries were surveyed — the U.S., Canada, Germany, China and the United Kingdom.

U.S. buyers would pay $484 for telematics and $472 for Wi-Fi while Germans would only allow $402 and $322 for the two functions. The U.K. ranked third for highest allowance for the tech, $386 for telematics and $345 for Wi-Fi. Next was China, waging $294 on telematics and $226 on Wi-Fi. Canadians represented the most frugal group — offering $168 for telematics and $181 for Wi-Fi — a fraction of what Americans would pay.

Sunroofs were one amenity that German and Chinese car buyers placed a more competitive bid for — with Germans willing to spend an extra $642 and Chinese an additional $440.

“They improve resale value of the vehicles,” Colin Bird, senior analyst at IHS Markit, explained. “And it usually denotes a more luxurious vehicle.”

Of the 5,000 drivers IHS surveyed who plan to purchase vehicles within the next three years, nearly all wanted the features to be standard in vehicles and with cost included in the sticker price. They did not want the software to be available for an extra fee.

Nearly all buyers surveyed, with a familiarity in smartphone applications, said they were interested or somewhat interested in seeing apps linked with vehicles. The Weather Channel App proved to be a popular choice, with about 40 percent of buyers showing interest, followed by various music apps, at 36 percent favorability.

Bird also found that consumers want systems such as Wi-Fi and OnStar to be built into autos but don’t want the specific features enabled at the time of purchase. For example, Tesla Inc. makes vehicles with built-in assisted driving systems, but drivers must prompt the service by paying a premium before it begins guiding them.

“As your lifestyle evolves, let’s say you add a kid to your family, you buy a house, you move somewhere more rural, the feature sets you need in your vehicle might change,” Bird said. “Now, instead of buying a new car, drivers just want the technologies to be adapted.”

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