min read

The connected car - what grinds russia's gears

by Alexander Kissov , 28.04.2015

The connected car will be a reality within a few years, as enhanced safety, economy and entertainment become standard features of most new vehicles. So how do Russians feel about the car of the future?

In this extensive global project carried out at the end of 2014, we interviewed 5,800 consumers in the key markets – Brazil, Germany, China, Russia the UK and USA – to find out what the future really looks like for consumers, automotive manufacturers and the wider supply chain. We asked Russians about their attitudes towards driving now and their thoughts about expected future innovations.

Russian drivers spend a lot of time in their cars, they are the most concerned overall about safety and accidents, and they are highly engaged with the technology and features of cars – and how they make them feel.

Russia’s driving pain points could be alleviated by the connected car

40% of drivers in Russia spend more than seven hours per week driving. The amount of time they spend behind the wheel is directly related to the distances driven daily and the high levels of traffic congestion, resulting in frequent accidents and snarl-ups in most of the major cities. These tough driving conditions are very stressful for drivers, which is why the car safety features and devices in the connected car that can help with avoiding accidents are such a high priority for Russians.

There are some differences for Leading Edge Consumers - a group of early adopters and influential consumers. For this audience, car theft and security and being stuck in traffic are more of a concern compared to all consumers, whilst the cost of fuel, serving and repairs less so. Looking at Self oriented” attributes, Leading Edge Consumers are less worried about a lack of confidence when driving, and more exercised by wasting time in traffic.

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What Russians want from a connected car:

  • 89% agree “I need to feel safe when traveling in poor conditions” – the highest of all the countries in the survey
  • 73% are interested in having in-car video and event recorders (continuous video, recording car surroundings for incidents such as theft and accidents)
  • 74% are interested in a windshield display showing maps, navigational instructions and other information
  • 72% would like to have “the latest options and technology in my car” – again the highest in our research
  • 72% are interested in self-parking controls


Safety benefits appeal most to Russians

The safety benefits of the connected car are most likely to appeal to Russians compared to the other nationalities in the study. They are the most likely to be worried about being in an accident or stuck in traffic, but amongst the least likely to be worried about dangerous or aggressive driving behavior. This is because the majority of Russians perceive themselves to be good drivers and their understanding of dangerous and aggressive driving is quite different from European drivers. Here are five key findings regarding the safety features that most appeal to Russians:

  • 80% are interested in-car CCTV that records the view around the vehicle and can automatically call police
  • 77% are interested in pre-incident preparation such as automatic seat belt tightening, window closure, and braking before unavoidable collisions
  • 71% are interested in having in-car biometrics to, for example, raise an alert when a driver is sleepy and check on the driver’s health (i.e. heart conditions)
  • 68% are interested in a car black box
  • 66% are interested in car-to-car connection to help avoid accidents and traffic

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Craftsmanship and the latest technology are extremely important

As the most likely in the research to say they feel free, energized, and empowered when driving, it may not be a surprise that a car’s appearance is very important to Russians as a reflection of their social status. Russians are more likely to consider craftsmanship and the latest technology in their cars as important attributes. This makes a customized car highly desirable. Customization doesn’t just apply to bodywork, but also to the advanced features and gadgets in the car. The belief is that the more expensive and advanced the car is, the cooler the driver must be. And just to prove that image is everything, the majority of Russian drivers who already have some smart devices in their cars rarely use them. Here are five insights from our research relating to the importance to Russians of a car that is sophisticated in both terms of look and technology:

  • 77% agree that “it is important my car is well designed and attractive” – the highest in the survey
  • 61% agree that “when I buy a vehicle, I like it fully equipped with all of the latest technologies” – this is the highest of any country studied
  • 53% agree “my car should ideally be a reflection of my status” – joint highest with China
  • 53% agree “it is important to me that the finish of my car and the craftsmanship is of the highest quality” and 53% also agree “my car bodywork and trim should incorporate premium materials such as wood, brushed metal or carbon fibre” – the only country where at least half agree with these statements


Of the seven new concepts that the connected car offers, Russians rank “Ultra Safe” as most appealing (60% – a car that connects with other cars and has integrated safety cameras), followed by “Data Tracker” (50% – a car that tracks usage, runs diagnostics and records accident data), and “Self Driving” (40%). But are Russian drivers prepared to pay for the numerous capabilities of tomorrow’s connected car? The good news for car manufacturers is that more than half agreed they would. 51% agreed with the statement “I would pay more to have the latest technologies in my car.”

Background Leading Edge Consumer

See our infographic about the Leading Edge Consumers and how they are driving the connected car market. Leading Edge Consumers are the consumers who are most likely to shape the future – those are early buyers, who are passionate about the auto-tech industry, and/or they influence others.

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Alexander Kissov is Head of Automotive at GfK in Russia.

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