Consumers Prefer Auto-Based Net Access for Safety

High-tech dreamers may envisage a car that’s as wired as any geek’s home, but consumers give auto-based Internet access a thumbs down unless it’s for safety or security, Greenfield Online found. Using the Internet to shop for a car from the comfort of home, now that’s a different story.

Internet-savvy consumers would like the Net to help make their car theft-proof, provide sensors to detect hazardous road conditions and enable a remote control to start the car and warm it up, according to a Greenfield Online’s survey of 1,000 Internet users.

On the other hand, 62 percent think that governments should ban cell phone use while driving, and only a handful envision that their next car would have built-in voice command telephone service.

Interestingly, more than half of the respondents said they really cannot identify or differentiate among the many makes and models on the road today. Most say that until they are ready to purchase a car, they pay little attention to auto news. But 60 percent describe themselves as loving to drive and on average spend 1.2 hours per day in an automobile.

According to research by Diameter, a division of DoubleClick Inc., 45 percent of consumers who intend to buy an auto did their shopping online. The research also found that the automobile sector is the fourth largest online shopping category, capturing 26 percent of the total adult population of online shoppers after airline reservations (45 percent), books (40 percent) and clothing (29 percent).

While 25 percent of the total visitors to automotive sites are currently in the market to purchase a new car, Diameter found a surprising number of the total visitors to African American sites (22 percent), men’s sites (22 percent) and small business sites (20 percent) say “they will definitely or probably purchase a car within the next six months.”

Online auto shoppers who are visiting automotive sites are especially interested in Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs). Nearly one-quarter of the total population of online car shoppers who went to auto sites within the past 30 days shopped for SUVs, compared to 8 percent who shopped for sports/convertibles, 6 percent who shopped for station wagons and 4 percent who shopped for prestige luxury cars.

Interest in High-Tech Features in Cars
Feature Interest in option
Built-in advanced theft deterrent systems 30%
Built-in road conditions sensors to detect hazards 22%
Remote ability to start and warm up the car 17%
Global positioning navigation system 12%
Satellite radio with hundreds of stations 9%
Built-in voice control telephone system 9%
Internet email inbound and outbound 6%
Full Internet connectivity 6%
Internet music downloading 5%
Source: Greenfield Online

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