Study Finds 44 Percent of Car Shoppers Are Clueless About Connected Cars | Edmunds

Study Finds 44 Percent of Car Shoppers Are Clueless About Connected Cars

Just the Facts:
  • The 2014 Harris Poll AutoTECHCAST study has found that 44 percent of car shoppers have never even heard of a connected car.
  • The study did find, however, that many of those surveyed were familiar with some of the individual technologies that go into connectivity.
  • The study concluded that the industry needs to do a better job of increasing awareness and educating consumers.

NEW YORK — A new study has found that 44 percent of car shoppers have never even heard of a connected car and 42 percent say they've heard the term but have no idea what these vehicles do.

The 2014 Harris Poll AutoTECHCAST study — a survey of almost 14,000 U.S. car owners who are in the market for a new vehicle — also discovered that only 15 percent of respondents say they are "very/extremely" interested in owning a connected car, and 31 percent say they are not even slightly interested.

Two-thirds of car owners say they fear owning a connected car because it could compromise their privacy due to cyber crimes and data breaches.

Said Ian Beavis, executive vice president of Global Automotive for Nielsen, parent company of Harris Interactive: "Given America's reverence for technology, and the fact 10 million connected vehicles were sold in 2013, representing more than half of all cars sold in the U.S., it is surprising so little is known about connected-car technology."

Admittedly, the term has become something of an advertising and PR buzzword in the industry, which could account for some of the confusion.

However, automakers are touting the connectivity features in their cars.

For example, the 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray features OnStar with 4G LTE and a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot. This provides a "mobile hub" for drivers and passengers with easy access to services that require a high-speed data connection, GM said. Its "always on" wireless connection comes with a 3GB/three-month data trial.

The 2015 Audi A3 also emphasizes connectivity, with an enhanced version of Audi connect, including a 4G LTE data connection.

At its most basic, a connected car is one that provides Internet access via cellular or satellite networks, either through onboard systems or through synchronization with mobile devices used by the driver and passengers.

But, of course, the currently available technology goes far beyond the basics, while the future implications and possibilities stretch into Star Wars territory.

Some of the technology currently available includes infotainment, such as Internet radio, podcasts and access to content on smartphones and tablets; navigation, including GPS and traffic information; voice and text communication (phoning and texting through onboard systems); parking apps; emergency services; and onboard vehicle diagnostics.

A more advanced view includes vehicles that communicate electronically with each other and with highway infrastructure — for example, sensing a traffic jam miles ahead and beginning to apply the brakes automatically — and self-parking cars that can locate an empty space and maneuver the vehicle into it.

Ultimately the marriage of connectivity and automated control systems forms the basis for fully autonomous vehicles.

Edmunds says: Consumers should realize that connected cars are here to stay.

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