December 3, 2004

Auto buyers want more safety features – survey

Westlake Village, California – Consumers continue to express significant interest in
safety-related vehicle features and are willing to pay a premium to have them in
their next vehicles, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2004 U.S. Automotive
Emerging Technologies Study released on Thursday.

Among 20 emerging automotive features included in the study, the four most desired
features enhance the safety and security of vehicle occupants and are of interest to
at least three-fourths of consumers surveyed. Side impact airbag protection, which
includes front torso and front/rear head protection, tops the list, with nearly 90
percent of consumers expressing interest in the feature and 37 percent stating they
are definitely interested in having this feature on their next vehicle. Consumer
interest remains strong even after the introduction of the realistic market price of
U.S.$600. Among consumers interested in side impact airbag protection, almost all
are willing to pay an additional $150 to have front/rear curtain airbags that stay
inflated in a rollover situation.

Other emerging technologies receiving strong consumer interest include run-flat
tires, with 85 percent of consumers indicating an interest in having the feature on
their next new vehicle, and laminated door glass, which provides interior noise
reduction, increased protection from vehicle theft and reduction of harmful UV rays.
Even with a price tag of $300, two-thirds of consumers indicate that they would
likely purchase this feature on their next vehicle.

“The 2004 study shows that the introduction of price has no effect on the relative
ranking of the top six features among consumers,” said Melissa Sauter, director of
automotive emerging technologies at J.D. Power and Associates. “This is unusual, as
we typically see a bigger shift in consumer priorities for vehicle technologies once
prices are considered. It is good news for these technologies because not only are
they of interest to many consumers, but they also have expected market prices that
are in line with consumer expectations.”

The non-safety-related feature with the highest level of interest among consumers is
premium surround sound. With 60 percent of consumers expressing a desire to equip
their next car with this feature at a market price of $400, this feature shows much

The study shows that nearly two-thirds of consumers are interested in receiving
real-time traffic information in their vehicle. Of the five traffic delivery methods
presented to consumers in this study, interest in receiving this information through
a navigation system-the highest priced delivery method-is second only to AM/FM
radio-the “no-cost” delivery method.

“The integration of real-time traffic information has the potential to significantly
increase consumer adoption of vehicle navigation systems,” said Sauter. “At a total
system price of $1,500, the level of consumer interest in a navigation system
increases by approximately 75 percent if traffic messaging is included at no
additional cost.”

The 2004 U.S. Automotive Emerging Technologies Study is based on responses from more
than 17,000 U.S. consumers. The study is designed to measure consumer familiarity,
interest and purchase intent for emerging automotive technologies.

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