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Survey: consumers increasingly open to emerging, tech-enabled auto experiences, including subscription services

From the rise of autonomous vehicles to the arrival of digital vehicle subscription services, technology is changing the way consumers view and interact with their vehicles, according to findings from the Jim Butler Auto Group’s 2018 Automotive Technology Survey.

While consumers under age 55 showed the strongest interest in new, technology-enabled auto experiences overall, half of all survey respondents said they would consider subscription vehicle services that bundle the cost of a car payment, insurance and maintenance into one monthly service fee. 70% of 18 to 34-year-olds and 61% of 35 to 54-year-olds expressed an openness to this model.

The survey, distributed between 28 October to 8 November 2018 to more than 30,000 drivers nationwide, found advanced auto features weigh heavier than brand loyalty, with more than half of respondents saying they would be willing to abandon their preferred vehicle make or model to obtain the specific technologies they want. Half of all respondents said they would pay more for a vehicle that had the technology features they want.

While recent headlines suggest automakers are moving closer to fully autonomous vehicles, 72% of respondents displayed some level of discomfort with operating or riding in self-driving vehicles, and nearly 60% went further, expressing outright distrust of the technology.

Driver assist features, including hands-free calling, built-in navigation and lane departure warnings, fared better, with 60% or more respondents saying they were “somewhat” or “very” comfortable with the technologies.

Drivers age 18 to 34 showed the most openness to autonomous vehicles, with 60% in neutral to strong agreement with the statement, “I trust self-driving technology.”

While nearly 30% of consumers were neutral to very comfortable with riding in or operating a self-driving vehicle, only 19% said they believed flying vehicles would become commonplace in their lifetime. This belief was highest among 18 to 34-year-olds, with nearly 30% believing they would commonly see flying cars in their lifetime.

Despite the prevalence of e-commerce, just 9% of respondents have ever bought a vehicle online. Overall, consumers expressed greater comfort purchasing new vehicles versus preowned vehicles online (36% to 28%), with price, specific make/model and simplicity of transactions, and specific tech features ranking as most important factors to online new-vehicle buyers.

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