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Many Buyers Not Sure About “Connected Cars”

Nielsen says automakers have a ways to go to educate consumers, monetize connectivity

Some 42% of vehicle owners polled by Harris Interactive have heard of connected cars but don’t really know what they do.

Harris polled nearly 14,000 vehicle owners of models 2009 and newer who are looking to purchase their next car.

Luxury car owners showed the most interest in connectivity: BMW (40%), Acura (37%) and Audi (34%). Overall, respondents indicated only 15% of car owners are “extremely or very” interested in owning a connected vehicle, with another 31% having no interest.

Nielsen EVP Global Automotive Ian Beavis calls the results “surprising,” given that 10 million connected vehicles were sold in the U.S. last year, representing more than half of all new cars.

He calls the findings “a sobering report card” on how much more groundwork automakers need to do to catch up to the engineering development and market the services so automakers can monetize in-car connectivity.

In-car connectivity is moving in multiple directions: built-in, where capabilities are already in the center stack and brought-in, where owners plug their smartphones into the car to access apps and data plans, or a combination of both. Nearly two-thirds of car owners (65%) want built-in connectivity compared to the tad more than one-third (35%) who prefer to plug in their device, according to the findings.