You would think make, model, colour and body style would be the deciding factors when buying a car.
Those features are important, but not as important as technology, according to a 2017 study by Autotrader. The study revealed that car buyers research the technology they want before they visit a dealership.
More surprising, the study revealed that consumers are willing to pay more for that technology — $2,276 (U.S.) more, to be exact.
New technologies that consumers want in their vehicles include the latest safety features, like adaptive cruise control and lane-departure warning systems, and infotainment systems, like Wi-Fi and voice commands. Automakers have been innovating to offer consumers more technology options.
When it comes to automotive technology, a lot of media attention has focused on autonomous vehicles and electric vehicles. While these technologies will no doubt play a larger role in passenger and commercial transportation one day, we are still many years away from that occurring.
That is not to diminish the increasingly important role that technology plays in cars, or how auto technology has proliferated in recent years.
Here are some of the most popular in-car technologies that customers routinely ask for at my Toyota dealership, in no particular order.
USB ports: Everybody has a smart phone or a mobile device, and these devices constantly need to be charged. Most vehicles come with at least one USB port and others come with multiple ports. If you regularly transport people who own mobile devices (especially long distances), the number of USB ports in your next vehicle should be a consideration.
Automatic emergency braking: This is where brakes are applied automatically if sensors determine that a forward crash is about to happen. It is a feature that may very well save your life in a collision, which is why more automakers are installing them as standard features (they used to be an option on most vehicles). In the U.S., 20 automakers have agreed to install automatic braking in all of their light-duty vehicles by 2022.
360-degree cameras: Infiniti and Nissan introduced 360-degree technology in 2007, and it has since been adopted by other automakers. (Toyota, the brand that I represent, refers to this technology as the Bird’s Eye View Camera.) Using specially placed cameras around the vehicle, 360-degree camera technology provides drivers with an overhead view of their vehicle on their on-board LCD screen. The greater the visibility on all sides, the less chance for scrapes and dings when parking, or, worse, backover injuries and deaths.
Rear cross traffic alert: Backup cameras are good, but they provide a limited view of what is going on behind you. A rear cross traffic alert system uses radar sensors to monitor multiple directions at once. It alerts drivers with an audible warning if something appears behind the vehicle that is beyond the camera’s viewing range.
Lane departure warning: As the name implies, this feature provides driver alerts (visual or audio) if a vehicle wanders across a marked lane. Distraction is an all-too-common occurrence among drivers these days, and lane departure warning systems prevent serious traffic collision and fatalities.
Connected mobile apps: In recent years, automakers have been installing smartphone integration technologies into their in-car infotainment systems, and creating their own apps for download. These connected mobile apps offer seamless integration with smartphones, as well as conveniences such as remote keyless entry, vehicle diagnostic reports, GPS tracking and other features.
LED and xenon headlights: New headlight technology has made nighttime driving safer for motorists. Xenon lights producer a brighter light and have a longer lifespan than standard halogen lights. A newer headlight is LED technology, which are smaller in design and gaining traction among automakers. LED last longer and are more energy-efficient than Xenon lights.
This column represents the views and values of the TADA. Write to [email protected] or go to tada.ca. Susan Gubasta is president of the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association and is president/CEO of Mississauga Toyota. For information about automotive trends and careers, visit carsandjobs.com.
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