As automakers incorporate in-vehicle technology features in more models, dealers have to find a way to sufficiently teach customers how to use the new tools, AutoTrader.com said in a report.
On Monday, the auto shopping site released a Harris Poll that asked 1,033 U.S. vehicle owners what they would sacrifice to have the features they want in a car, which technologies are most important and how manufacturers could best sell them a vehicle. They were polled Oct. 15 to 20.
“The fact that consumers are in need of this education combined with how much technology is influencing the purchase decision is a huge opportunity for dealers," Michelle Krebs, AutoTrader.com senior analyst, said in the report.
"Given 60 percent of consumers say they don't have enough time during the test drive process to fully evaluate car technology features, salespeople who can actively show shoppers how easy these features are to use, and demonstrate the benefits will build a trusted relationship with the shopper to help seal the deal."
AutoTrader.com wanted to find out what consumers are really looking for and whether they understand the in-vehicle technologies, Krebs said.
“There’s been so much talk [within the industry] around various technologies that we wanted to see how real car buyers felt about them,” Krebs told Automotive News in an interview.
And the 2014 In-Vehicle Technology Shopper Influence Study, conducted for the first time this year, found that in many cases, car owners don’t understand the technologies.
Car owners want a vehicle equipped with technology that is easy to use, the study said. AutoTrader.com found that 78 percent of participants would rather have one in-vehicle technology feature that they understand than an assortment of difficult-to-use technology features.
Almost half of participants said it should take less than 15 minutes to learn how to use all the technology features in a car, and 38 percent said they wish they had more time to receive training on technology and safety features during a dealership test drive. About 3 in 10 would want to take a car home overnight to learn the features on their own, the study said.
“There is a tremendous education job to do on this technology,” Krebs said. “It’s a significant opportunity for dealers.”
Most vehicle owners value safety most of all. Of those surveyed, 84 percent said they would buy a vehicle with all their desired safety features over a car that has all of their desired information and entertainment features.
But dealers still may have some convincing to do when it comes to autonomous vehicles.
Most of those surveyed, 65 percent, said fully autonomous cars are dangerous, but 61 percent said they would consider buying a car with some autonomous safety features, such as automatic braking, park assist and collision avoidance.
Even with the reluctance toward self-driving cars, technology features are important to consumers. When the survey questioned car buyers’ brand loyalty in relation to technology, 56 percent said they would switch from their preferred brands to have the technology features they want.
Technology even trumps vehicle color, which always has been an important part of choosing a car, Krebs said. Sixty-nine percent of respondents said they value technology features over car color.
AutoTrader.com will release a more detailed vehicle technology study in conjunction with the International Consumer Electronics Show in January.
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