DETROIT (WWJ) – When it comes to technology, safety still sells. A new study from J.D. Power shows buyers are more interested in crash prevention technology, and are even willing to pay more to get it.

“Collision protection, looking at systems that automatically brake and steer the vehicle,” said Kristin Kolodge, executive director of driver interaction & HMI research at J.D. Power. “Customers have a very strong preference and interest in these technologies, encouraging carmakers to continue pursue them as a result.”

LINK — JD Power Technology Study

Among the most wanted technologies are blind spot detection, night vision and systems that automatically brake to prevent crashes. This, Kolodge says, dispels concerns that drivers might object to the car taking control to prevent a crash.

“It’s building the trust and reliance that’s going to perpetuate interest and get us closer to self-driving vehicles.”

The study found that younger buyers are more willing to pay extra for the technology they want. But the interest in safety spanned generations, and vehicle preferences.

“It really squashed many of the clichés we have heard in the past that this is more for luxury vehicles and more for older generations,” said Kolodge.

The study, analysts say, will be closely watched by the auto industry.

“What’s clear is a broad array of vehicle buyers want technologies that put safety first,” said AutoTrader.com senior analyst Michelle Krebs. “While there is some trepidation about autonomous vehicles, this study shows that consumers rank autonomous features as must-haves. Much of it has to do with exposure and education of consumers on autonomous vehicles, the more consumers get of both, the higher the demand for self-driving cars will be.”

AutoTrader’s own survey showed that buyers were willing to switch brands to get the technology they want.

The J.D. Power study also showed that buyers were not willing to switch smart phone platforms to adapt to technology in vehicles. People who had iPhones wanted Apple’s CarPlay Technology, and those with Android phones were more interested in Android Auto.

“If you want to attract the full population, you’re going to need to have both systems,” said Kolodge.

Connectivity is important, according to the Power study, but not as important as safety. Kolodge said their study put technology that improves fuel efficiency as the least important.

“Part of that is the kudos to automakers and the strong work they are doing in lightweighting and powertrain improvements that they’ve made in the vehicles. The other is the time the study was conducted is the lowest fuel prices that we’ve seen in quite some time.”

Connect with Jeff Gilbert
Email: jdgilbert@cbs.com
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Twitter: @jefferygilbert

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