The connected car will be a reality within a few years, as enhanced safety, economy and entertainment become standard features of new vehicles. So how do the Germans 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 six key markets – Germany, China, Brazil, 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 German drivers about their attitudes towards driving now and their thoughts about expected future innovations.
German drivers are reasonably positive about the experience of driving, with 68% stating they are “happy”, 69% “peaceful” and 61% “relaxed”. 29% describe themselves as heavy drivers, spending more than seven hours driving per week – close to the average for the six countries in our survey.
The top pain point for German consumers, with 43% citing it, is “expensive gas/oil/petrol”. “Being involved in an accident” is second at 38% and “Being stuck in traffic” third at 35%.
There are some differences for Leading Edge Consumers - a group of early adopters and influential consumers. The research shows that for this audience, being involved in an accident and aggressive driving behavior are less of a concern compared to all consumers, as is the cost of fuel, serving and insurance. Looking at worries around “Self oriented” topics, they are more worried about wasting time in traffic.
When considering what they want from a car, German consumers think of safety and security, value for money and durability as equally important key considerations. While they think fuel efficiency, ease of use and saving time are important as well, a car that suits their personality, has an attractive design or the latest technology is of less interest.
When we look at Security, Gratification, Wellbeing and Freedom as an index, we can see which features meet key areas of need. Safety features will become standard hygiene factors, so it’s important for brands to understand which other attributes meet consumer needs. Here Freedom ranks highly – namely value for money, durability, fuel efficiency and ease of use. Gratification and Wellbeing overall are less important.
Of the six nationalities in our survey, North American and British consumers say the idea of autonomous driving makes them feel the most anxious and powerless. German consumers do not share these issues to the same extent, with only 15% saying they would feel anxious and 15% powerless in a self-drive car.
Of the seven new concepts that the connected car offers, German consumers rank “Ultra Safe” first (57% – a car that connects with other cars and has integrated safety cameras), followed by “Self Sufficient” (42% – a strong but light electric car), and “Data Tracker” third (38% – a car that tracks usage, runs diagnostics and records accident data).
While 41% state they would pay more for “Ultra Safe”, willingness to pay more for other connected car features is significantly lower. Only 17% say they would pay more for “Life Manager”, for example.
German consumers are not as positive about connected cars as drivers in China, Brazil and Russia. Together with consumers in the US and UK, German consumers are more circumspect. However, knowing that the Germans are both safety and cost conscious provides opportunities for manufacturers of connected car vehicles to meet those needs.
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.
Frank Haertl is Global Lead Automotive for GfK.
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