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Nielsen AutoTECHCAST Report: Advanced Auto Safety and Convenience Technology Draw Growing Interest from Tech-Savvy Consumers

5 minute read | August 2016

Consumers are increasingly excited about vehicle technologies, but a lack of familiarity with connected vehicles and lingering privacy concerns remain as obstacles

New York, N.Y. – Aug. 24, 2016 – Technology-savvy consumers are increasingly motivated by new advances in automobile tech, particularly around safety and convenience, when making a new car purchase. However, a lack of familiarity with connected vehicles and some lingering privacy concerns around these technologies remains as an obstacle to wider adoption and increased sales.

“Consumers are becoming more interested in advanced automotive technologies than ever before and are increasingly factoring these technologies into their purchasing decisions,” explained Mike VanNieuwkuyk, vice president, Nielsen Automotive. “Manufacturers need to continue to educate auto shoppers about the technologies that appeal to their personal interests and desires in order to distinguish their products from competitive options and build stronger brand loyalty with these tech savvy consumers.”

The recently released 2016 Nielsen AutoTECHCASTSM Report, an annual study of consumer preferences focused on advanced and emerging automotive technologies, examines the latest industry trends and uncovers the reasons behind them. The AutoTECHCAST survey was conducted during the second quarter of 2016 and encompassed nearly 12,000 U.S. new car buyers and looked at 44 auto-related technologies.

The Importance of Increasing Consumer Awareness

While advanced automotive technologies are on the rise, consumer awareness of many automotive technologies is not as widespread as some might think. The Nielsen AutoTECHCAST Report found that base familiarity is low with just 25% being extremely or very familiar with these technologies.

However, familiarity with technology related to safety and connectivity is rising. According to the report, the top five most recognizable advanced technologies are rear camera mirrors, smartphone-linked media functionality, blind spot detection and prevention systems, surround view camera systems, and smartphone-navigation vehicle interfaces.

Technologies involving comfort and fuel efficiency were shown to be the least familiar to survey respondents. The report revealed the bottom five technologies were gesture/motion controls, energy recovery suspensions, active wheel shutters, active front grille shutters, and car-mounted solar panels.

Beyond automotive technologies that are related to safety and connectivity, consumers are far less familiar with other futuristic advancements. A lack of awareness around many of these technologies may be hampering their wider acceptance, raising the need to better educate consumers.

Rising Interest in Safety Technologies

When it comes to future vehicle selection, safety—particularly accident prevention technologies—is growing in consumer interest. The AutoTECHCAST Report found that safety is among the top criteria for consumers when shopping for a new vehicle and has risen 5% since 2014. Advanced technology is also on the rise, up 3% over last year. Furthermore, half of the top 10 individual technologies of interest are safety related.

While vehicle price and reliability remain important factors with consumers, they are also viewed as characteristics that are expected. The report did uncover an increase in the importance of corporate reputation, which rose to 10% in 2016 from 8% last year. “Consumers are becoming much more interested in the reputation of the company they purchase their vehicle from,” said VanNieuwkuyk. “More than half of the respondents we spoke to indicated that car manufacturers are making good choices when it comes to safety, which really bodes well for industry reputations in general.”

“Connected Cars” Are Still a Mystery to Many Consumers

While familiarity with connected cars has been on the rise, the AutoTECHCAST report shows that nearly one-third of consumers have never heard of these technology-enabled vehicles. These consumers don’t know what connected cars do, and are not associating vehicle brands with infotainment badging. This highlights the need for manufacturers to better promote their branded infotainment systems and find more effective ways to market system-specific features to vehicle owners in order to raise awareness of connected car functionality.

Another issue facing connected cars is skepticism around protecting the consumer’s privacy. The AutoTECHCAST Report found that nearly two in three consumers surveyed are not willing to share information over fears their privacy would be comprised. Manufacturers will need to further their efforts in educating consumers about the benefits of connected cars, and reinforce privacy options available around how data is collected and security measures that are already in place in order to build trust and ease concerns.

Building Excitement for Advanced Technologies

The AutoTECHCAST Report found that advanced technologies are highly appealing to Millennials and affluent buyers. “Automotive tech offers manufacturers an important tool for staying competitive and relevant, while appealing to the newest generation of consumers who are extremely technology savvy,” concluded VanNieuwkuyk. “This year’s report highlights growing expectations by today’s consumers around safety and connectivity-related technologies. This rising awareness presents the industry with an important opportunity to refine their message and fine tune promotions that drive excitement for advanced technologies.”

Nielsen AutoTECHCASTSM Report Methodology

The Nielsen AutoTECHCAST Report is an annual multi-client study platform to collect and analyze consumer insights on advanced automotive technologies and features. The 2016 study includes 44 technologies. A total of 11,886 U.S. consumers completed the study utilizing Nielsen’s Harris Poll Online panel members, as well as additional preferred partner sample. The average survey length ranged from 35 to 40 minutes. Data were collected between March 22, 2016 and April 27, 2016. Data was weighted by demographics and a propensity score to ensure that respondents are representative of the total in-market vehicle buying population.


Nielsen Holdings plc (NYSE: NLSN) is a global performance management company that provides a comprehensive understanding of what consumers watch and buy. Nielsen’s Watch segment provides media and advertising clients with Total Audience measurement services for all devices on which content—video, audio and text—is consumed. The Buy segment offers consumer packaged goods manufacturers and retailers the industry’s only global view of retail performance measurement. By integrating information from its Watch and Buy segments and other data sources, Nielsen also provides its clients with analytics that help improve performance. Nielsen, an S&P 500 company, has operations in over 100 countries, covering more than 90% of the world’s population. For more information, visit