Car Shoppers Lining Up for Safety and Convenience Technology | Edmunds

Car Shoppers Lining Up for Safety and Convenience Technology

SOUTHFIELD, Michigan — Car shoppers will demand more convenience and safety technology, including adaptive cruise control and autonomous parking assist, in the near future, according to a new analysis.

A monitor that tells the driver if a car is in his blind spot could be on 40 percent of the cars and light-duty trucks assembled in North America in 2020, a 185 percent increase over 2014, the report says.

"There is obviously a safety angle to this," Jeremy Carlson, an IHS Automotive analyst, told Edmunds. "That is predominantly the first reason why a lot of these systems even exist. But intertwined in that is the convenience and driver-comfort option."

Today, the 2015 Ford Edge, Hyundai Genesis, Infiniti Q70L and Lexus LS 460 are among the vehicles available with adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning and blind-spot monitoring.

Parallel parking assist, sometimes called active parking assist, is offered on such vehicles as the 2015 Ford Escape and Mercedes-Benz C-Class models.

Adaptive cruise control uses radar to monitor the road and tells the car to speed up or slow. As for parking, a car can nearly parallel park itself if the parking assist feature is activated.

Carlson, who is senior analyst for autonomous driving at the consultancy, created a production forecast for 2020 based on information from automakers, suppliers and other sources.

The five technologies forecasted to be winners with car shoppers are adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking, lane-departure warning, blind-spot monitoring and autonomous parking assist.

According to the analysis, adaptive cruise control will be in 13.4 percent of light-duty vehicles assembled in North America in 2020, compared with 2 percent in 2014.  

As for the other technologies: autonomous emergency braking, 27.1 percent in 2020 vs. 4.5 percent in 2014; lane-departure warning, 23.3 percent vs. 4.5 percent; autonomous park assist, 13.6 percent vs. 5.4 percent; blind-spot monitor, 40 percent vs. 14 percent.

Autonomous emergency braking stops the car if a crash is imminent.

"I am not surprised at these numbers," said Jessica Caldwell, senior analyst. "I would imagine that they could potentially be higher in five years because the auto industry changes faster than it once did."

Caldwell expects each of the technologies to trickle down to even the smallest vehicles sold in the United States.

Carlson said two of the technologies also have the potential to improve fuel efficiency 2 to 3 percent, according to a European study. For example, adaptive cruise control can "smooth out acceleration and deceleration" better than the driver.

Parallel park assist can reduce the time it takes for a driver to locate a parking space that fits the car, saving gasoline and potentially 10-20 minutes of driving.

"I think that is a pretty strong selling point because mpg ratings, fuel efficiency are generally something — if it is a good number — consumers tend to look at," he said.

Edmunds says: Sophisticated safety systems, once the exclusive domain of high-end vehicles, will filter down to more vehicles in the near future.

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