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New Car Surveys Touch Lightly on Radio

Amidst queries on dashboard ease of use, radio questions focus on reception

I’m still participating in new car surveys, presumably used to help automakers figure out what features consumers want in their new vehicles.

Since I’ve had my car a few months now, the surveys I’m receiving now are asking my likes and dislikes about the new Beetle.

Questions mainly focus on performance, comfort and styling. The questions about the radio usually appear with a list of interior feature queries. I’m being asked to rate, from poor to excellent, both audio quality as well as AM/FM reception. Some of the surveys ask me to rate the ease of use of the radio specifically or to rate an entire audio entertainment system (which, in my car is the AM/FM/Sat radio, CD player and the Aux port).

I’m pleased to see that some surveys ask what got me into the showroom, and whether radio advertising was a source of information I relied on. (In my case that was part of the decision-making process, and I’m glad that’s being asked.)

But it’s also easy to see from these surveys that to automakers, the radio is only one feature among many. On one seven-page survey, the radio questions were part of a swath of queries about dashboard function and appearance, right under questions about the whether the gauges and switches are easy to see and use.

Automakers seem to be primarily concerned about your preferences for fuel economy, roominess and how the car is primarily used. Which is understandable, it’s not as if the radio is the engine; however to our industry, it IS like the engine, a main focus. When you get in your car every day, what do you do? You turn on the radio. And that’s why it would be interesting if the industry could get these survey companies (like Maritz and Population Research) to ask more questions about how the radio is used for their automaker clients.