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New-Car Features Buyers Want And Those They Steer Clear Of

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Legend has it that automotive pioneer Henry Ford once said, “If I’d asked customers what they wanted, they would have told me, ‘A faster horse!’” Apparently, if you ask the descendents of those Model T buyers what they want most today in a new vehicle, the answer would be heated seats, and a long list of what are now familiar safety systems and comfort/convenience features. Their preferences for leading edge auto technologies like biometric features and gesture controls, not so much.

That’s more or less the gist of the annual Future Attribute Demand Study (FADS) report compiled by the market research company AutoPacific, based on the opinions of nearly 90,000 new-car buyers and lessees, 50,000 of which who said they were planning to go vehicle shopping again in the not-too-distant future. 

Given the tumult that’s taken place since COVID-19 struck, it’s understandable that the list of the most coveted new-vehicle features this year are primarily reward-oriented, either adding elements of safety or those that afford added comfort and convenience. Among the features on the FADS’ most wanted list for the first time this year are ventilated/cooled front seats, front and rear parking proximity sensors, and the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone interfaces, with the latter being especially desirable among millennials and tech-savvy Gen X motorists.

Among advanced driver assist safety systems, the survey found buyers most want their next cars to have blind spot warning and lane departure warning functions. They’re less interested, at least for now, in ADAS features with which they have less familiarity, like active lane keeping assist, forward automatic emergency braking, and rear cross-traffic alert. “When consumers hear about a vehicle’s ability to stop itself automatically, they are often wary,” says Dan Hall, Vice President of AutoPacific. “When they experience it saving them from committing a driving error, they clearly see the benefit,” 

Following that logic, it should come as no surprise that at the other end of the spectrum, the survey determined that car buyers are the least interested in having their next rides fitted with advanced, yet unfamiliar capabilities, including augmented-reality head-up displays, onboard biometrics, and fully autonomous driving. If you have no idea what either of these systems do or why they would be important, it’s less likely you’ll walk through a showroom floor seeking them out.

Here’s the top 10 features the study says buyers want the most in their next vehicles:

  1. Heated seats: 66%
  2. Blind-spot monitoring: 60%
  3. Front and rear parking sensors: 55%
  4. All-wheel or four-wheel drive: 54%
  5. Lane-departure warning: 54%
  6. Apple CarPlay and/or Android Auto: 53%
  7. Power front passenger seat: 52%
  8. LED accent lights: 52%
  9. Ventilated or cooled seats: 50%
  10. Memory driver’s seat: 49%

And these are the amenities in which shoppers have the least interest:

  1. Augmented reality head-up display: 14%
  2. Electronic engine noise enhancement: 13%
  3. Ability to purchase things from the vehicle infotainment system: 12%
  4. Biometric features: 9%
  5. Gesture controls: 9%
  6. Concierge services: 7%
  7. Fully autonomous, hands-free driving with no steering wheel: 7%

Source: AutoPacific Future Attribute Demand Study