“Wired-in-the-Car”: Your Next Generation Customers Want to be Wired, but Not Necessarily for Safety


teenagers in a car

As part of June’s National Safe Driving Month, Autobytel has released a “What’s Hot Now?” Report, “Wired-in-the Car[i] that indicates that drivers continue to be conflicted between their desire to be “plugged-in,” with 40 percent overall wanting the internet in their vehicles, their concerns about safety, with 87 percent believing in-vehicle web access is a safety issue—and their actual behavior, with over 50 percent still admitting to, at some point, illegally texting/phoning while driving (even though 95 percent want the internet banned or restricted in vehicles).

Industry predictions are that 90 percent of vehicles will have some form of wireless connectivity by 2016 [ii]; however, 50 percent of Autobytel respondents predict that that reality will come much sooner—by 2013. Not surprisingly, the survey indicated that Echo Boomers (aged 35 and under and the dealership core future customer) are both less likely to want a ban on internet access/use in their cars (64 percent say “no”), and more likely to be in an accident caused by an in-car electronic device (reporting twice as many accidents as those over 35). Survey respondents overwhelmingly support laws restricting texting-while-driving (90 percent) but only three percent have ever been ticketed for using a cell phone/texting while driving. Furthermore, 35 percent report either having been in an accident, or seriously close to one, involving a driver distracted by using a technology device such as a cell phone, iPod, etc.

Sixty-eight percent of Echo Boomers indicate that the ability to surf the internet in their car was either “very important” or “nice to have.” However, technology that would make in-vehicle use of electronic devices safer is not a high priority for survey respondents, with only eight percent of Echo Boomers (and 14 percent of respondents overall) favoring voice controlled mobile interfaces that minimize distractions, versus 30 percent that chose GPS navigation as the device/accessory they don’t currently have in the car but would like.



This new data reveals realities (and opportunities) that can impact your dealership. Your customers are driving unsafely, but are increasingly concerned about safety as connectivity explodes in the car—while they want new, ‘wired’ in-vehicle devices/accessories. Whether one does social media online (at a Facebook, etc.) or off (through traditional community outreach), it’s never been more important in our “social age” to brand your dealership as a community/consumer advocate.

Incorporating statistics like these into your dealership’s safety campaigns (whether aimed at parents and/or younger super-wired drivers) while actively encouraging the use of in-vehicle hands-free technology can benefit your bottom-line while also helping to save lives. As our survey reveals, laws are having too little impact, but dealers can play a powerful role in educating the drivers of today and tomorrow to self-police, as well as encouraging them (and being their source for) installation of Bluetooth and other hands-free technology.

The data also clearly shows that, in spite of mobile GPS device proliferation, your customers still show significant interest in in-dash GPS navigation systems. And, in the hyper-connected future, there will be endless new ‘wired’ accessories they demand, and aftermarket safety solutions they need to balance them…All of this is good news for—and should be a focus of—your aftermarket sales.

Jim Helberg is EVP Product, Marketing and Analytics at Autobytel Inc. For more information please visit www.autobytel.com, or www.totalleadcontrol.com.

[i]The Autobytel’s ‘Wired-in-the-Car’ Snapshot survey was conducted on Autobytel’s network of consumer automotive sites, including autobytel.com, in May 2010. Nearly 2,000 consumers responded to the survey.

[ii]According to market analysis firm Strategy Analytics, almost 90 percent of vehicles produced in North America and Europe will have some form of wireless connectivity in 2016.

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