Don’t be the guy or gal a couple years down the road who didn’t insist on automatic steering and self-parking features when buying a new car. Or LED headlights. Or an advanced smartphone infotainment integration system. And run-flat tires? They’re a must-have!
Of course, being a savvy consumer, a key motivator for any technology you purchase is price. And this will make a difference when it comes to what technologies car manufacturers offer in the future. According to a 2016 J.D. Power study, once price is introduced to customers, some new-fangled technologies drop off the list of must-haves.
The study is based on a survey conducted in February and March 2016 of more than 7,900 consumers who purchased or leased a new vehicle in the past five years.
It found, as reported in a Los Angeles Times article, that when price is not a factor, consumers are most interested in the following 10 modern-day automotive technology features:
- Run-flat tires ($600 for four tires): When one of these tires goes flat, you can still ride on them to a service station. Their internal and external structure gives you an additional 50 miles at 50 mph. Drivers are alerted to a flat by a dashboard light.
- Dual-stage airbags ($400): These safety devices provide low-stage and high-stage deployment based on impact, and take the weight of passengers into consideration via an in-car computer.
- Navigation systems ($1,500): Advanced dashboard navigation systems offer drivers detailed route guidance as well as connectivity, entertainment and information, such as live traffic reports for most major cities.
- Premium surround sound ($500): Think brilliant audio, multiple (10-plus) speakers and high-watt amplifiers. Today’s top systems support satellite radio, Bluetooth audio streaming, HD radio, iPod integration and SD cards.
- Active cornering headlight system ($300): “Smart” headlights collect computerized data from speed and steering angles and swivel the main beams toward the road ahead, assisting night vision.
- Back-up assist ($300): This rear-view camera boosts driver visibility when backing up.
- Blind spot detection ($500): The device beeps when you drive too close to a lane divider without using a turn signal.
- Heated and cooled seats ($700): Small pinholes allow air to flow to the seats.
- Advanced keyless entry system ($500): Carry these “smart” devices with you to start your car remotely. Doors will unlock when you’re in close proximity, and you start the engine by pushing a button on the dashboard. For security purposes, the car won’t travel more than 20 feet from wherever the keys are located.
- Personal assistance safety devices ($17 per month): Simply tap a button and connect with a 911 operator.
Yet when price is considered, car customers are most interested in these top five technology features:
- Economy navigation system ($60)
- Simple wireless device connection ($60)
- Camera rear-view mirror ($300)
- Smart parking ($100)
- Predictive traffic ($150)
Among the top 10 most-desired technologies taking price into account, self-healing paint has the highest price point at $500. It provides scratch protection five times greater than conventional automobile paints.
Does every new technology come at a price?
As with the consumers surveyed, if you’re experiencing sticker shock from the cost of some of these technologies, here’re some features that car manufacturers are likely to dole out free of charge:
- Augmented reality owner’s manual: Simply point your owner’s manual or smartphone/tablet at the item in question for information on how to use it. This technology is already in use, for example, in the Hyundai Sonata—in the form of an app dubbed “Virtual Guide.”
- LED headlights: LED headlights—already a standard feature from some car manufacturers—will actually save you money while they improve your night vision because they’ll never burn out.
- Smartphone integration: OK, not free, but worth the money. Thanks to systems like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, you can duplicate your smartphone screen on your car’s infotainment screen, making it easier and safer to use vehicles and phones simultaneously.
- Smartphone vehicle management apps: This technology, which allows you to locate your car, start it and receive reports on its wear and tear, is available free or for a small fee from several manufacturers through the iPhone App Store or Google Play—as long as you purchase their latest infotainment system.
During the past quarter century, cars have morphed from inefficient steel death traps to smart and significantly greener transportation machines. When making a car lease or purchase decision, consider the many technology options available to improve your comfort and safety.