Report: In-Car Infotainment Devices Drawing More Interest

Infotainment devices like high-definition radio and wireless systems are getting more appeal among vehicle owners, according to a recently released report from J.D. Power and Associates.

The firm’s U.S. Automotive Emerging Technologies Study measured vehicle owners’ interest in “emerging automotive technologies” and their likelihood of buying those add-ons.

“While vehicle owners remain very interested in technologies that make their vehicle safer, they are turning their attention more and more toward features and technologies that allow them to be productive, connected and entertained while in their vehicles,” Mike VanNieuwkuyk, executive director of global automotive, said in a statement. “Given the variety of interests from consumers, automakers will be challenged to pursue technologies that fit their consumers’ interests in order to attract them to their products.”

Cost a Hurdle for Add-on Devices

The study surveyed respondents before and after revealing estimated prices of such technologies.

Before revealing prices, car owners were most interested in:

–Light-emitting diode headlights

–Natural language voice activation

–Next generation head-up display

–Wireless connectivity system

–Remote vehicle diagnostics

After revealing at-market prices, car owners were most interested in:

–HD radio

–Enhanced collision mitigation system

–Wireless connectivity system

–Rear-view camera

–Personal assistance safety services

“Not unexpectedly, purchase interest declines across all features when a price is introduced,” the firm stated in a release.

Study Fields Interest in Driverless Tech

The report also gauged motorists’ interest in the budding field of autonomous driving technology, finding that 37 percent of respondents were drawn to such equipment. After learning that the estimated market price of $3,000, 20 percent of respondents said they “definitely” or “probably” would purchase the technology for their next car if available.

As expected, 37 percent of premium vehicle owners maintained interest in purchasing autonomous driving mode after learning the price, compared with 18 percent of owners of nonpremium cars.

Vehicle owners are almost as likely to buy “fully autonomous driving mode” as separate driver-aiding technologies like emergency stop assist, traffic jam assist and speed limit assist, all of which come at market prices of $800 each.

Insurance Implications of Pricey Gadgets, Autonomous Driving

Consumers who have in-car technology add-ons and are looking at auto insurance comparison quotes should find out if the devices would be covered by the insurance policy if the car were stolen or totaled.

Some companies providing comprehensive or collision coverage will cover accessories up to a certain amount. Progressive’s comprehensive and collision includes up to $1,000 in coverage, but the insurer allows policyholders to purchase up to $5,000 of protection for accessories and custom parts and equipment, covering accessories like TV and DVD players that are permanently installed in the car.

And if long-term crash statistics show that cars with new safety technologies like the head-up display, collision mitigation systems and rear-view cameras are involved in fewer or less-severe crashes, it could result in savings for drivers with those technologies. Most insurance safety discounts, however, are still limited to antilock brakes and automatic seat belts.

A 2010 study into autonomous driving by Stanford University researchers found that it was “one of the most intensively researched and publicly followed technologies in the automotive realm,” but added that unresolved legal aspects like insurance coverage are keeping the public skeptical.

Researchers said the most glaring questions have to do with “how courts, regulators and the public will react to accidents involving robotic cars” and recommended “special insurance policies for autonomous vehicles” to mitigate such issues.

About John Pirro
John Pirro is a licensed fire and casualty insurance agent specializing in various aspects of the auto insurance industry. He worked in the auto body repair industry before taking a reporting position at Online Auto Insurance News.

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