What’s wrong with the auto industry? Technology overload

Michael James

Has the ever-expanding technology in new cars reached saturation?

Technology thrives in the automotive industry. Safety, performance and efficiency are improving in cars and trucks at a wickedly fast pace.

Mobile device connection to the Internet, navigation systems, emergency response systems and driving habit-monitoring devices has revolutionized the auto industry.

But as automakers continue to keep drivers connected in their vehicles at the same pace as when they’re not behind the wheel, is there reason for concern?

Is too much of good thing not so good? Or, have consumers gained more confidence that carmakers’ ever-advancing innovation overrides the need for technology distraction concerns?


Has the ever-expanding technology in new cars reached saturation?
Has the ever-expanding technology in new cars reached saturation?

According to Harris Interactive, the marketing research company in Rochester, N.Y., that conducts the annual AutoTECHCAST study, the answer has slightly shifted toward the later.

Still, distraction via in-car connectivity remains a concern.

The percentage of auto consumers experiencing a distracted driving experience dropped from 84 percent in 2012 to 82 percent in 2013, according to the Harris poll.

A similar study by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) in 2012 revealed concurring statistics. While driving distraction concern issues remain a major topic in the auto industry, there has been improvement. More public awareness, new driving laws and a greater appreciation on new technology are key reasons.

Among newer innovations, back-up camera (38% 2012, 47% 2013), adaptive Headlamps (31% 2012, 37% 2013), blind spot warning (29% 2012, 36% 2013), emergency front collision warning (25% 2012, 29% 2013) and surround view system (18% 2012, 28% 2013) have had the largest growth in important to consumers in the past year.

“While both the NHTSA report and the AutoTECHCAST study show declines in some distracted driving activities, there remains a long road ahead in the race to get distracted driving under control,” said Mike Chadsey, Vice President, Automotive Solutions Consultant, Harris Interactive. “However, it seems that the message is starting to get through to consumers, as fewer are reporting engaging in distracted driving activities.”

The Harris Interactive included decreases in several key activity areas: making a phone call (53% in 2012, 47% in 2013), receiving a phone call (59% in 2012, 53% in 2013), and reading a text message (25% in 2013, 23% in 2012).

Following the 2012 poll, Chadsey’s assessment was slightly different.

“The fear of technology distraction seems to outweigh the other perceived benefits of having in-car connectivity options,” he said “Carmakers should take note. Depending on the generation of their target market, in-car connectivity can have influence on the buying decision, but too much of a good thing may just be too much.”

Last April, the federal government expressed its concerns. It recommended to automakers a voluntary limit to technology in vehicles. The NHTSA stressed that drivers should remained focused on driving not technological wizardry.

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