Edmunds Executive Says Active Safety, More Tuned-In Dealers Are Next Consumer Hot Buttons | Edmunds

Edmunds Executive Says Active Safety, More Tuned-In Dealers Are Next Consumer Hot Buttons

Just the Facts:
  • Edmunds.com Vice Chairman Jeremy Anwyl told a meeting of the International Motor Press Association that little variation in crash-test results means safety ratings have become less useful to consumers.
  • Meanwhile, consumers will press for more active safety technology, particularly as the population ages.
  • Onboard technology isn't very intuitive, giving dealers an opening to better connect with customers during feature walkarounds separated from the delivery process.

NEW YORK — As results from new-vehicle crash testing now demonstrate little difference among models, consumers increasingly are going to demand more — and more sophisticated — active safety features, said Jeremy Anwyl, Edmunds.com vice chairman, at a meeting today of the International Motor Press Association (IMPA).

Anwyl said an aging population and a global push for more autonomous-driving capabilities will drive demand for active safety technology in the coming years. Older drivers increasingly will see the value of active safety features such as collision-avoidance and automatic-braking systems, Anwyl said, noting that the very same technology also will be a foundation of vehicles that eventually travel without any driver input. In the near term, active safety features will emerge as the new differentiator for consumers in much the same way as crash testing has before, Anwyl added, saying that because most new vehicles perform well in current crash tests, those results have less relevance for consumers trying to decide which vehicle to purchase.

IMPA President David Kiley asked Anwyl what the auto industry could be doing better to serve its customers, with the Edmunds chief executive replying that dealers must do a better job of explaining the often-complicated onboard infotainment capabilities and interfaces now typical of most new vehicles. Anwyl said successful dealers will offer walk-throughs of electronic technology at a place and time of the vehicle buyers' convenience, rather than attempting to explain everything during the hectic delivery process.

Anwyl also told the IMPA gathering that while pending Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards have created an inexorable shift toward smaller vehicles and more fuel-efficient powertrains, consumers themselves are not demonstrating with their wallets an overwhelming interest in alternative-propulsion alternatives such as battery-electric or plug-in hybrid technology. He said that although data shows consumers state an interest in "green" vehicles, that interest is smaller in action.

The Edmunds vice chairman also reiterated his opinion that the best route to encouraging fuel-efficient choices is not via government CAFE standards, but a larger gasoline tax.

Edmunds says: What consumers demand from future vehicles is going to change the vehicle-buying landscape as much as it affects vehicles themselves.

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