J.D. Power is one of the most respected names in the automotive industry and offers awards for a variety of reasons that automakers seek to be able to include in their advertising on an annual basis.  Each year this organization offers a Tech Choice Study which presents groups with a variety of new technologies to gauge the response from the group.  Those surveyed are typically of a wide range of ages to ensure all generations are represented which are still driving on the road today.  The results of the study from this year are very telling as to where we are with technology.

With a wide variety of new technologies on the horizon many that were surveyed felt most of the technologies could be added to vehicles to offer a great deal of increased awareness and security while driving.  Some of these features included camera based rearview mirrors, smart headlights, night vision, electronically adjustable window tinting and self-healing paint.  Every one of these features sounds like it could add a lot to your vehicle  to keep you safe and have the vehicle look great at all times, but how much would each of these items cost to be added to a car?

During the survey when the cost to add each item was revealed many of the responses changed dramatically.  Once the costs were revealed and the participants realized the increase in price just to have some of these items would increase the overall cost of the vehicle by thousands of dollars the favorite features then became an economy navigation system, wireless device connectivity, the camera based rearview mirrors, smart parking and predictive traffic systems.  This shows us that the consumers surveyed are budget-conscious and don’t want to spend as much as $2,000 just to have night vision installed in their next vehicle.

While some of the least popular items are the trailer connect assistance and towing aids because of the singular nature of these items, the fact that full vehicle autonomous driving was among one of the least desired is a bit alarming and seems to not only hold a lack of appeal but also be part of a generational divide amongst drivers.  Autonomous driving opens up a few discussion points when it comes to a survey of drivers and security of the systems, let’s take a look at how this singular feature divided the group surveyed and divides us as drivers on the road.

Based upon the survey the older generations are much less likely to want to trust an automated system to drive their cars for them.  This includes those born before the Baby Boomers and the baby Boomers.  Many of these two generations can remember cars without power anything and a time when driving had to be skill you mastered, not just a way to get to and from one place and another.  As we move to younger groups, Generation X is more likely than their parents to desire this system, but still not as much as those that are part of Generation Y or Generation Z.  These two groups show a keen interest in having cars that drive themselves and advancing technology farther.

One aspect of the autonomous driving technology that all five age groups can agree upon is the security of the systems and the possibility that someone could hack into their vehicle and hijack it.  That is clearly a real fear and one that spans all age groups who have witnessed the rise in identity theft and internet security issues.  This seems to be the one place in this survey that everyone agrees needs to be made transparently perfect before autonomous driving can be fully accepted.