Consumers Unclear on Smart Auto Technology Costs
June 06, 2019

Pete Goldin

With sophisticated digital and smart technologies generating headlines for automakers, many consumers are beginning to consider these devices and services as essential equipment for their own cars. But GfK research shows that people who see smart auto technologies as “must haves” still may have misconceptions about what they will might cost.

The GfK AutoMobility Auto Tech Insights 2019 report provides a broad look at the desires and concerns of new car “intenders” – those who plan to buy a new vehicle in the next six months – when it comes to smart devices and services. The Auto Tech Insights report is drawn from research among over 1,000 intenders interviewed during the AutoMobility research.

For seven key emerging auto technologies measured – from Autonomous Vehicles to Augmented Reality – GfK found that only small proportions of intenders who see the technologies as “must haves” would be willing to pay $2,500 or more for them.

For example, 30% of intenders consider an Electric Vehicle a “must have” – but only one-quarter (8%) of those enthusiasts would pay an incremental cost of $2,500 or more for one.

Similarly, 25% say an Autonomous Vehicle is essential for them – but only one-quarter (7%) see $2,500 or more as the right incremental price; in fact, the same proportion (7%) expects to pay less than $500.

In addition, close to half of intenders who are sold on the idea of an in-vehicle Infotainment System or a Connected Vehicle say they want to pay under $500 for the capability.

GfK also found that male intenders are more likely to consider smart vehicle tech as a “must have.” Men planning to buy a new car are twice as likely, for example, to see Autonomous Vehicles and Augmented Reality as essential, compared to female intenders. In addition, male intenders are almost twice as likely to view Infotainment Systems and Electric Vehicles as “must haves.”

The fact that some consumers may not understand the actual prices of auto technologies may be part of a larger lack of clarity about the space. GfK found, for example, that one-third to three-quarters of new car intenders say they know little or nothing about these in-vehicle technologies. Two-thirds (69%) say they “have not heard of” or “don’t know much about” Augmented Reality, for example, and close to half say the same about Autonomous Vehicles (48%) and Active Safety Technology (47%).

Among the generations, Baby Boomer intenders (ages 55 and up) are the most likely to report knowing little or nothing about these device and services, with levels up to 26 percentage points higher than the general population. (See Table 2.) Gen X intenders (ages 39 to 54) are generally more in line with the national averages, while Gen Y (ages 21 to 38) has the lowest levels of awareness.