Smart headlights, rear-view camera mirrors top J.D. Power Tech Choice Study

DETROIT — Smart headlights and rear-view camera mirrors are the most requested technologies that consumers would like to have in a future vehicle, according to a new J.D. Power study released on Tuesday. However, most consumers are still skeptical of self driving technologies.

The findings were announced on Tuesday during an Automotive Press Association meeting inside the Detroit Athletic Club.

The J.D. Power study took place online from January-February 2017. It is based upon more than 8,500 consumers who purchased or leased a new vehicle within the last five years. There were four different sections of the survey: pre-priced interest, market priced interest and sensitivity, emerging concept emotions, and budget-based intentions.

Pre-Price Features: 73% of consumers would definitely/probably would purchase smart headlights, followed by rear-view camera mirrors with 71%, emergency braking and steering systems at 68%, lane change assist at 63% and self-healing paint wraps up the top five features with 62%.

Market-Price Features: An economy navigation system topped the list with 53% of the vote followed by a simple wireless device connection at 44%, rear-view camera mirrors at 43%, predictive traffic at 43% and smart parking rounds out the top five features with 40%.

Meanwhile, younger consumers are more willing to spend their money on autonomous driving technologies. An economy navigation system (61%) and a simple wireless device connection (59%) make up the top two technologies that Generation Y and Z consumers (those born between 1944-2004) would want in their car. Those technologies are followed by a rear-view camera mirror at 56%, predictive vehicle assistant at 53% and an adaptive navigation map at 51% of the vote.

There’s a great deal of distrust about autonomous vehicles

The automakers will have a tough time convincing consumers that self-driving vehicles are safe, according to the J.D. Power study. Nearly 44% of baby boomers would definitely not trust fully autonomous vehicles.  Only 3 percent of baby boomers would be comfortable with this new technology.

“I think we’re going to see a seismic change in what vehicles are going to do for us,” said Dave Sargent, vice president of global automotive at J.D. Power. “We’re going to see fully self-driving vehicles on the road. I don’t think anybody has any doubt about that. We’re going to see driverless taxis on demand and driverless delivery vehicles. We’re going to see journey based ownership where I just pay for what I use.”

However, 23% of Generation Z consumers (those born between 1995-2004) definitely would trust self-driving vehicles. In addition, 33% of Gen Z probably would support this new technology. Those two combined make up 46% of younger consumers who are interested in autonomous vehicles.

“One generational distinction between Gen Z and Baby Boomers is understanding what object in their life promotes independence or freedom,” said Kristin Kolodge, executive director of driver interaction & HMI research at J.D. Power. “For baby boomers, this object would likely be the vehicle. We know that’s our way out and provides us with the independence we’re looking for. But for Gen Z, we see that object would likely be their smartphone. It’s a different relationship.”

Motorists who participated in the J.D. Power study are concerned with the complexity of autonomous vehicles, privacy issues, along with the potential for their vehicle to be hijacked or hacked.

“There’s a great degree of mistrust in the whole idea of a self-driving car,” Sargent explained. “Completely giving up the wheel and the pedals to the car is something that most consumer aren’t comfortable with. How does the industry lead consumers into this new world? The engineering will get there. Can we ferry  consumers over this river of doubt and and mistrust and fear and get them to the other side? I think we can.”

As for the benefits of self-driving vehicles, Gen Z recognizes the potential for fewer accidents and the ability to do other things with their time. Those activities include reading/videos/internet/games at 33%, talking or texting at 31%, working at 26% and sleeping at 25%. However, most baby boomers (40%) do not see any benefit of autonomous vehicles at all.

“With the exception of Generation Y, consumers in all of the other generational groups are more skeptical about self-driving technologies,” Kolodge explained. “Compared with last year’s results, we saw that 11 percentage points more for Gen Z consumers and 5 percent points more for Baby Boomers say they would not trust automated technology. Those who were in that probably state last year, now you see them more decisive.”

For more information about the J.D. Power U.S. Tech Choice Study, visit


Automotive Press Association members mingling with officials from J.D. Power. (Jason Rzucidlo/AmericaJR)


The results from the 2017 J.D. Power U.S. Tech Choice Study were announced at the meeting. (Jason Rzucidlo/AmericaJR)


Dave Sargent, vice president of global automotive at J.D. Power. (Jason Rzucidlo/AmericaJR)


The most desired technologies before price was put into consideration, according to the J.D. Power study. (Jason Rzucidlo/AmericaJR)


Kristin Kolodge, executive director of driver interaction & HMI research at J.D. Power, discussing the results of the survey. (Jason Rzucidlo/AmericaJR)

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