Younger Generations Place Higher Value on Car Tech

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Interest in advanced car technology when broken down by generation is highest among the youngest drivers and lowest among the oldest — but that's inversely proportional to those age groups' ability to pay for it. So-called millennials are not only the most technologically savvy age group, but also the most willing to pay extra for advanced features in cars. Still, their budgets are limited while generally such features are still associated with luxury vehicles.

That's according to a study released this week by research company GfK and the Consumer Electronics Association on "The Future of Automotive Technology." According to the study, three-quarters of people in Generations Y (ages 25-34) and Z (18-24) rank among the "most tech-interested" segments of car buyers. Both those generations were significantly above average — 70 percent of Gen Y and 61 percent of Gen Z — in reporting to be "especially interested" in car tech.

"These two groups also indexed well above-average in their willingness to pay extra for a variety of advanced car technologies, including visual warning of nearby emergency vehicle activity, seats that automatically go to driver's preferred position, and spill-proof car devices," according to a news release.

Meanwhile, Generation X (ages 35-44) showed average willingness to pay for new tech, while baby boomers (45-64) showed the least.

Jeff Campana, senior vice president of GfK's automotive team, said those younger generations are highly attuned to the benefits of mobile technology, as well as safety and cleanliness features. Campana said the study's results indicate an opportunity for automakers to engage these buyers by bringing more affordable, advanced devices and services to small and midsize cars.

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By Matt Schmitz | October 18, 2013 | Comments (9)

Comments 

Mike S.

I'm on the older end of the Gen Y spectrum, and like my classification, I'm split on a lot of car tech. I'm willing to buy advanced safety and comfort tech, but I have a serious issue with in-dash infotainment technology.

I'm well versed in mobile tech, and use it quite a bit, but I'm actually *disinterested* in buying a built-in touchscreen nav and infotainment system. The main reason is that like any mobile technology, it's outdated in ~2 years, and much of what's on showroom floors now is already behind the curve anyway.

How many of us own a car that's older than 2007? I ask because that's when the first iPhone came out (which lacked apps and GPS then, too)

I am simply not inerested in buying a vehicle with technology that will be ancient and impossible to upgrade/swap out, and be out of date long before the rest of the car wears out.

Sure, it's great if you lease and trade in after 3 years. But otherwise, I wonder who really thinks about how nice it'll look in 5 years (much less 11 years, the average age of cars on the road)

If you aren't using an 11 year old cell phone, 11 year old computer, 11 year old music player, or 11 year old GPS unit... why would you want any of that tech proprietarily built into your car's dashboard?

wain

Then younger generation better make plenty of $ to keep up with breakdowns.

Beautifully written Mike S. I, personally, fall into the middle of Generation Y and am a traditionalist when it comes to technology.

I have a very traditional push button phone (not even a camera) after constantly having to replace smart phones for frozen or non responsive screens and software issues. My block-shaped phone is a joke among friends, but it has lasted longer than any of their more advanced phones. The simpler the better in this case.

I would be very hesitant on having touchscreens or entertainment in my car, which a purchase I want to keep for 5+ years. It just opens the door for headaches and annoyances down the road

Soakee

Good points Mike. I'm at the end of the boomer generation, and I frankly don't care one bit about advanced safety or comfort tech, but I want state of the art in-dash infotainment. I've found it cheaper/better to replace the factory-installed (standard) equipment with aftermarket pieces. This can be done relatively inexpensively whenever desired now that high-quality equipment has dropped in proce.

Lance

Since the large screen is built into the dash, wouldn't it be reasonable cost to upgrade the software. Even if it was a few hundred dollars it seems like it would still be preferable to plugging in and viewing something that is about 4" wide. How much better can the resolution get? As far as the sound system part goes, is there really big of advances in a 5-7 year period?. Some cars are still being sold new with CD players. My dads old Cadillac still has a very nice sounding system and it is 15 years old.

FlanKitty

As one of those so-called gen Y'ers I'm kinda mixed on the tech thing as mentioned by other comments. I like car gadgets as much as the next person but in order for me to actually care enough they have to be something I can see myself using daily. So heated/cooled seats are in there with HID/led lighting while navigation, CD players and memory seats I consider mostly useless.

As far as upgraded/brand audio, I consider it more an issue with factory headunits than the marginally upgraded speakers since cars these days are unfriendly to the aftermarket while said aftermarket isn't always up to speed on innovation (I want just a radio and USB/SD card media player, not a headunit with apps that crash as often as my android phone).

cjm

I'm a member of gen Y myself who hasn't figured tech into the car buying equation at all. If a vehicle meets the critea I'm looking for so happens to have it, I'll give it a try. Unitl then, I'll continue to use my phone as a phone, my gps, for directions, and my laptop to look up restaraunt reviews. Even if the built in technology is behind the curve, I'm further behind it. If it serves its purpose, I'll never know the difference.

panayoti

Yes, younger folks love their technology but that doesn't translate into a car buying experience. They generally have no money, no job, are riddled with debt, and as a "generation" eschew car buying. No disrespect intended but why should automakers try to cater to their likes when those same tech savy ones don't buy cars.

I don't think there are any surprises here...except how GfK displaced the Baby Boom by a few years. It spans 1946 - '64. I've never seen it presented as '49-'67.

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