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Technology Puts Consumers in the Driver’s Seat with Connected Cars

3 minute read | January 2015

While many of us may feel like we live at work these days, the cars we use to get to and from work might come in a close second. In fact, a recent Nielsen study conducted by Harris Poll found that Americans spend an average of 6.5 hours in their cars each week. Unlike in years past, however, today’s consumers have more amenities than just air conditioning and heated seats to enhance their driving experience as they go about their travels.

In addition to going wearable, tech has gone drivable—and the connected car is rapidly transforming how people take to the roads. In fact, it’s also having an impact on the way they feel and act when they’re behind the wheel. Connectivity comes in an array of varieties, ranging from vehicle-to-driver communication to Internet connectivity. And in most cases, connected drivers are happy drivers.

If You Have It, You Like It

An overwhelming majority of connected drivers (approximately nine in 10) are satisfied with their drivable tech. Our recent survey covered six connected features, and about 90% of the respondents said they’re at least somewhat satisfied with each feature.

Consumers’ satisfaction with their connected cars likely stems from the degree of tech personalization that automakers have developed—a trait that is broadening the overall appeal of these vehicles. In fact, a recent Nielsen study found that 39% of the 44% of consumers who plan to purchase a new car within the next two years say they’re very likely to purchase a connected car with such built-in features.

So what else is driving the desire? In many cases, prospective auto buyers are looking for what’s new and hip. They’re also looking for pleasure—and they’re getting it. When asked if they like it and why, the majority of respondents in the recent poll said the connectivity makes driving fun—even revolutionary. What’s more, they say the connectivity improves safety on the road because it makes them better drivers. Nearly one in two even went as far as to say they can’t live without their connectivity features.

Most Don’t Have It—Yet

Tech is often viewed as something that appeals more to younger generations than older ones. When it comes to cars, however, parents are often just as much in favor of connectivity—if not more so—than their kids. They also responded more positively than non-parents with respect to both usage and attitude toward connected cars.

Overall, connected parent drivers are substantially more likely to have all six connected car features than non-parents. They’re also much more likely to use their features for at least half of their rides—possibly because they say their connected car features make driving more fun.

Of the American drivers polled for the recent study, an underwhelming percentage currently own or lease connected cars. However, about 30% do drive cars that have at least one connected feature, the most common (18%) being “vehicle-to-driver communication.”

In the case of personal transportation, connected drivers are much more positive than negative about the tech features in their vehicles. There is, however, a minority of connected drivers that says the features are distracting, complicated and even stressful. And about one in three say the connectivity isn’t a good value and perhaps more of a hassle than it’s worth.

Despite the minority of naysayers, the overwhelming majority of connected drivers have expressed enthusiasm for their smart wheels. And as tech continues to infiltrate our lives, there’s little doubt that car connectivity will grow and continue to drive consumers into auto showrooms to see the latest and greatest innovation.


This survey was conducted online in English by Harris Poll within the U.S. between Oct. 17 and Oct. 23, 2014, among 4,094 adults aged 18 and over, 907 of whom own or lease a car that has one or more of six listed connected car features.

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