Automated Safety Systems Top Car Shoppers' Lists of "Must-Have" Features, Study Finds

SOUTHFIELD, Michigan — Advanced safety systems lead the list of "must-have" features for new-car shoppers, according to a new study from IHS Automotive.

The 2016 IHS Markit Connected Cars Survey, which polled 4,000 consumers in the U.S., China, Germany and the U.K. who intend to purchase a new vehicle within the next 36 months, found that automated safety systems — such as blind-spot monitoring, lane change assistance, forward collision warning and automatic braking — are the features that are most important to them.

And, the IHS report noted, respondents from the U.S. not only cited these systems as most desirable, they also expressed a willingness to pay for them, indicating that they'd spend between $427 and $505 at the time of vehicle purchase for the additional safety items.

Globally, although those surveyed were equally enthusiastic about new safety tech, the majority said they expect it to be included at no cost.

But overall, the shoppers did express a willingness to pay for vehicle software updates. Of the respondents with in-car infotainment systems, 74 percent said they'd foot the bill for updates that improve or add functionality to their systems.

Not surprisingly, when it comes to consumers in the Millennial generation, that number goes up, with 89 percent of younger U.S. shoppers saying they'd pay for upgraded software, as would 90 percent of those in China.

When asked what smartphone apps they use most often in their vehicles, 52 percent of those surveyed cited navigation apps as their favorites, followed by those that supply weather data (noted by 41 percent of respondents) and music and news apps (37 percent).

The IHS survey also inquired about consumers' willingness to ride in or purchase a self-driving vehicle and found that, overall, nearly 33 percent responded positively. Another 25 percent said that, while they might not buy an autonomous vehicle, they would ride in one.

Again, the Millennials led the group, with more than 50 percent saying they'd either ride in or purchase a self-driving car, and fully 75 percent indicating that they'd be comfortable at least riding in one.

These responses are pertinent, because earlier IHS Automotive forecasts indicated that as many as 21 million vehicles with some form of autonomy will be sold in 2035.

Finally, IHS's analysts say that vehicle connectivity will continue to increase. They predict that in 2020, 55 percent of annual global new-car sales will be made up of connected vehicles and that by that time almost half of the overall global fleet of vehicles in operation will be connected.

Edmunds says: As safety technology advances, it's clear from this study that U.S. car shoppers want it in their next vehicle, and they're willing to pay for it.

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