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In car connectivity an easier sell to the under 35s and men

According to a Harris Poll conducted in May 2012, more than three quarters of US adults (76%) report that they believe in-car connectivity technologies are too distracting and even dangerous. What's more, more than half (55%) argue that automakers have taken technology for road use too far.

Their survey also found a strong majority of car owners (62%) also worry about how technology may interfere with their privacy, including where and how they drive. Over 40% of US car owners believe their insurance rates could increase because of what in-car technology reveals about their driving habits. This is more of a concern among younger drivers between 18 and 35 (46%) and men (46%).

American car owners are, however, conflicted when it comes to technology and their cars. Three in five (61%) view their car as a haven from the outside world and thus don't want to always be connected while driving. Yet, more than half of car owners find that in-car connectivity makes driving more enjoyable (58%) and makes them feel safer (57%) while on the road. Men in particular enjoy having connectivity in their cars (64%) more than women (53%) and feel safer with technology on-board (61%) compared to women (54%).  

Acceptance of the technology depends on age, not surprisngly. While only 39% of car owners 50 to 66 think in-car connectivity is important, 58% of those who are between 18 and 35 agree with that statement. When it comes to new car purchase decisions, two in three car owners between 18 and 35 (66%) say that the vehicle's technology has some or a great deal of influence on the next car they choose. This drops to just (46%) for those between 50 and 66.

According to Mike Chadsey, Automotive Solutions Consultant for Harris Interactive, “Car makers 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.


Connectivity Platforms

In discussing these findings, Fred O'Connor in Computerworld reviews some developments in car connectivity:

  • The Ford Sync platform - which among other functions has an in-car wireless router and let drivers use voice commands to control selected mobile phone apps
  • Apple’s Siri voice command system on in its iOS 6 mobile platform - with its Eyes Free feature to allow useof  the voice command button on their steering wheels to ask for Siri's help with getting directions, playing music, writing text messages and placing calls in addition to other functions.
  • Toyota's Entune system - to bring mobile applications including the Bing search engine, Pandora and the OpenTable restaurant reservation service to a range of its vehicles. 
  • Honda's revamped car connectivity platform, HondaLink - which uses cloud computing to stream music, news and entertainment content to drivers.

Some car makers keeping their software options open

Separately, Jaguar Land Rover and Toyota have been announced as contributers to the Automotive Linux Summit, taking place 19 & 20 September at the Heritage Motor Centre in Gaydon, Warwickshire.

The Automotive Linux Summit is designed for the automotive industry and developers using the Linux open source platform to collaborate on the future of mobility solutions.

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