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Safety Features Are Top Priority Among New-Vehicle Buyers

Originally Published in Trailer Life Magazine

Safety-related features continue to be the most desired among new-vehicle buyers, according
to the J.D. Power and Associates 2000 Automotive Feature Contenting Report. Even among
sport-utility-vehicle (SUV) owners, the demand for safety features is strong, yet the
features they desire are largely unavailable in most SUVs. “Keeping the family safe is a
top priority among consumers,” said Jacques daCosta, senior manager of product research at
J.D. Power and Associates. “One of the factors contributing to strong SUV sales is the
perception that a bigger vehicle with a better view of the road is safer. Many new drivers
of SUVs say they like the ride height and the better view of the road it affords. However,
this high-riding feel does not reduce the owner’s desire for safety features.” Owners of
luxury SUVs posted the strongest desire for night vision, adaptive cruise control and
“smart” airbags. These owners are second only to luxury car owners in their demand for
brake assist, stability control and proximity sensors — features that focus on accident
avoidance instead of accident survival. “For drivers of all types of vehicles, today’s hot
features are safety related,” daCosta said. “Consumers are definitely concerned with
vehicle safety and are willing to pay a reasonable price to have safety-related features.”
The study reveals that almost three out of every four consumers report they want
side-impact airbags on their next vehicle, despite the fact that only 20 percent of the
vehicles sold in the United States are equipped with this technology. Even convenience
features such as adjustable pedals address safety issues. Several new features address
safety by reducing the risk of an accident under normal driving conditions and by sending
emergency services on a moment’s notice. These include: brake assistance, which assists the
driver to apply maximum braking power in emergency situations; adaptive cruise control,
which ensures a safe distance is maintained behind other drivers; electronic concierge
systems, such as OnStar, which are operator-assisted navigation and personal-assistance
systems. The percentage of owners indicating they would like a hybrid gasoline/electric
drivetrain in their next vehicle has increased from 20 percent in 1999 to 29 percent in
2000. A long-term trend shown is the demand for features that allow better utilization of
time spent on the road. About 19 percent of all new-vehicle buyers say they would like an
in-car PC in their next vehicle.

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