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TechSurvey 2022: The Car is Getting Crowded

Bluetooth now most important feature for new car buyers

The annual TechSurvey from Jacobs Media measures the amount of change in the tech space and its impact on radio broadcasters, and the dashboard in connected cars is the 800 pound gorilla in the room.  

Experts say the technology in the car dashboard is quickly changing and so are driver preferences. Car buyers are putting a higher premium on car tech like Bluetooth, large display screens and Smartphone aux connections, along with a taste for media operating systems like Apple CarPlay and Android Automotive. 

Broadcasters and non-broadcast companies like Google, Apple, and Amazon are working with car manufacturers to maximize their presence in the mediascape of the connected car, according to those familiar with developments. And car makers are looking at all options in order to monetize the dashboard. 

About 12% of TechSurvey respondents say they plan to purchase or lease a new vehicle in 2022 despite much higher new car costs. That percentage has held fairly steady the past four years, said Fred Jacobs, president of Jacobs Media, but what new car buyers are looking for is changing.


Bluetooth has now surpassed FM radio as the most important feature among new car buyers, Jacobs said on a webinar last week highlighting sections of the latest annual survey. 

Americans are placing a higher premium on technology because it keeps them connected and productive, even in the car, experts say. The car has become a Smartphone on wheels if you will.

“For the first time ever the most important feature for those planning to make a new vehicle purchase, participating in our survey, Bluetooth has surpassed radio. (Bluetooth) is up three points and FM radio was down four points. Connectivity is becoming very important,” Jacobs said.

Having an AM radio is a desired feature for only 33% of respondents planning to purchase a new car, according to TS 2022.

And hitting a new high, eight in 10 respondents with a Smartphone can now connect the device in their car, an especially popular feature for younger consumers participating in the latest survey. 

“These content monsters, as we call the younger generation, are far more likely to connect their Smartphone to the car for content,” Jacobs said. 

The good news for AM/FM radio is that actual in-car consumption of the service is still number one at 56% followed by SiriusXM (19%) and personal music from a Smartphone (9%). “Surprisingly, streaming audio is only at 6%, but remember we are dealing with an older audience (participating in TechSurvey) by and large,” Jacobs said. 

But Jacobs points out on the TechSurvey webcast the trend of AM/FM radio listening in the car continues to erode falling from 62% in the 2018 survey project to 56% in TS 2022. 

“Overall people are listening to less AM/FM radio in the car. More people are using full blown media systems like the Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep UConnect, Ford Sync, Audi Connect,” Jacobs said, “and that tends to erode radio listening.”

In fact, when you examine the survey data and weight it for those respondents who have a “Connected System” in the car, AM/FM radio listening shrinks to only 47%.

This is the last in a series of stories exploring the results from TechSurvey 2022. Click here to read part five.