THE BLOG

What 50% of Us Are Now Thinking About When Buying Our Next Car

07/08/2014 11:02 BST | Updated 06/10/2014 10:59 BST

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For years we've trusted car mechanics to keep one of our biggest financial investments in working order. But do we really know the ins and outs of our car? How often are we getting ripped off for repairs? And critically, how many of you know about the really useful connected car services already available? (e.g. syncing your car to emergency services so they receive vital info instantly in the case of an accident)

I for one, don't enjoy being a passive driver and want the power back in my hands. I'd like to have as much info as possible about its diagnostics and all the connectivity available. If I was in a particularly pun-tastic mood, I might even say I want to be in the driving seat in all senses of the term when it comes to my car. But I digress.

A meaty piece of independent research was released recently on the subject - the 2014 Connected Car report. They polled the opinions of 5,000 drivers across 5 markets. I was particularly interested in the contributions from seven of the world's largest car manufacturers - Ford, Kia, Nissan, Fiat, GM, VW and Renault.

The interactive micro-site for it is here.

The report finds that consumer awareness of connected car products and services around the globe is at a high right now. And critically, this is starting to move the needle on our purchasing decisions. Half of us now consider connected features such as inbuilt connectivity and the ability to plug in a smartphone a key factor in decision making when it comes to purchasing our next car.

Turns out 73% of us insist safety and diagnostics - early warning systems, smarter navigation - are critical when buying a new car

Music to my ears. I've been trying - fruitlessly - to convince pals that you don't have to be a techie to use connected car services or understand all the features you can now access from your dashboard (in some of the newest models).

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Here are the other main findings from the report:

- Turns out 80% of us expect the connected car of the future to to provide the same experience we're used to at home, whilst walking down the street or at work. We're a demanding lot!

- Usage-based insurance models - where you pay a lower premium if you have a track record for driving safely - are becoming very popular. In the UK for instance, 54% of drivers picked it as one of the connected car features they would be most interested in.

- This one surprised me: 35% of drivers do not even expect to own a car by 2034, and instead predict they will be using alternative options such as car sharing services. This is excellent news - lowered carbon emissions and great for the environment.

- Drivers in different countries appear to prefer to pay for connected services in different ways. Most Spanish drivers would prefer a one-off payment (49%) while those in America, Germany and the UK would favour basic connectivity with the option to choose additional services. Brazilians are split between the latter and a full-on PAYG model.

- There's also a high degree of interest among drivers for features that will help reduce the cost of running and maintaining a car. Fuel efficiency was top of the list across all countries when asked which features would be most important when buying a new car.

In Europe, the growth of the connected car market will be boosted by the European Commission's eCall mandate. The initiative calls for all new car models in member states to have the European eCall system fitted from 2015. The setup connects a vehicle to emergency services following a collision and provides vital location and impact information immediately. Clearly safety is a huge driver of this legislation, but the connected car of the future will offer so much more than this.

Drivers are starting to see the benefits of embedded connectivity in our vehicles. I'm convinced that the "smartphone on wheels" can deliver the seamless digital experience that we're expecting.

(All images in blog post purchased by author from Shutterstock)