What are shoppers paying the most attention to when in the market for a new vehicle?
Color and brand apparently pale in comparison to the importance new-car shoppers are putting on vehicle technology.
That’s according to Autotrader's "2015 In-Vehicle Technology Shopper Influence Study," which provides insight into how vehicle technology impacts consumer vehicle purchase behavior.
This past September, Autotrader commissioned KS&R Inc. to survey online 1,012 U.S. vehicle owners who are shopping around for their next vehicle.
The study, which is in its second year, showed nine out of 10 consumers likely to buy a vehicle in the next year said they have a plan to research the latest vehicle technologies in their search.
Specifically, 77 percent of respondents said a vehicle with all the tech features they want is more important than the car’s color.
And innovative car technology is apparently swaying buyer loyalty, too. Sixty-five percent of those surveyed said they wouldn’t have a problem switching vehicle brands to get all of the tech features they want in their next vehicle.
"In-vehicle technology ranks increasingly higher for consumers as they consider must-have and desired features in their car shopping," said Michelle Krebs, Autotrader senior analyst. "That puts automakers under intense pressure to anticipate and offer the technologies consumers desire, or they risk losing them to a brand that delivers."
Apparently, must-have car features for shoppers these days are cruise control (59 percent), diagnostic alerts (52 percent) and USB charging ports (49 percent), while 67 percent of consumers surveyed wish their current vehicle had Wi-Fi.
Interestingly, consumers view these tech features as a “luxury,” and define vehicles as such based on the technology they provide.
Autotrader analysts said 53 percent of those surveyed said they defined a vehicle as luxury or non-luxury by the technology and infotainment features available.
And consumers aren’t afraid to pay out a bit more for this coveted technology. According to the survey, 44 percent of shoppers said they would pay up to $1,499 for an in-vehicle concierge service such as Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
In today’s tech market, automakers are also having to decide the best avenues to deliver these technologies; through the vehicle or via smartphones.
Fifty-seven percent of survey respondents said they wanted automakers to focus on better integrating smartphones into all vehicles. Autotrader pointed out this number was up from 48 percent in 2014. And 39 percent of respondents said they preferred to use the navigation and map tools on their smartphones, rather than a navigation system built into their vehicles.
And these tech-savvy consumers aren’t too worried if the tools are easy to use or not. Take this into account: Seventy percent of respondents said they would still consider a vehicle they liked even if the technology was perceived to be too difficult to use. Back in 2014, 48 percent said they wouldn’t buy a vehicle that has features that were too hard to utilize.
"Consumers increasingly desire cool technologies as they are exposed to them, educated on their use, and as automakers improve the ease of use of them," Krebs said. "Still, education is key to consumer acceptance of new technologies, which is a huge opportunity for automakers and their dealers."