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Motorists Want More Safety Features, Less Frill, Research Finds

Automotive manufacturers, while pushing hi-tech frills, are not meeting customers’ needs for safety related features, according to consumer opinion research.

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BLOOMFIELD HILLS, MI — Automotive manufacturers, while pushing hi-tech frills, are not meeting customers’ needs for safety related features, according to consumer opinion research.

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RDA Group, a Detroit-based global marketing research firm, recently conducted 48 focus group sessions with motorists and found that safety related needs were common among all new car and truck owners.

According to its research, RDA found that motorists want their vehicle to assume control of their driving when they are distracted or drowsy. Parents want vehicle permission settings so they can monitor the driving habits of their teenage drivers. They also want alarms that notify them if an infant is inadvertently left in an unattended vehicle.

“Although the auto industry has come a long way in improving driver safety, results of this research show that customers are demanding more,” said Jim Thomas, senior vice president for product development at the RDA Group. “When we launched the Auto-Ideation study, we didn’t anticipate that safety related needs would surpass other needs related to driver comfort and convenience.”

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In addition to safety related needs, drivers in the study identified the need for interior customization, real time traffic information, glare and blind spot reduction, better food and beverage management in vehicles, cabin temperature maintenance and snow/ice removal from vehicles.

Too often companies let technology push new features into vehicles which the consumer may not want, said Thomas.

“We want automotive planners and engineers to listen to the voice of their customers early in the product development process, rather than wait for a report card when the feature is introduced into the market,” Thomas added.

The Auto-Ideation Study was conducted among 2003/2004 model new car and truck owners who participated in a total of 48 group sessions during November and December 2003.

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