Safety in Demand

Consumers are more interested in vehicle safety, and the good news for suppliers and auto makers is that meeting such demands won't necessarily mean added costs. A survey by RDA Group Global Market Research & Consulting identified 87 safety features buyers would like to have in their next car or truck, Jim Thomas, senior vice president, says at the Ward's Auto Interiors Show in Detroit last month.

Consumers are more interested in vehicle safety, and the good news for suppliers and auto makers is that meeting such demands won't necessarily mean added costs.

A survey by RDA Group Global Market Research & Consulting identified 87 safety features buyers would like to have in their next car or truck, Jim Thomas, senior vice president, says at the Ward's Auto Interiors Show in Detroit last month.

Safety technology trailed only convenience features in the number of wish-list items identified by some 8,163 new-vehicle owners polled late last year.

Of the more than 500 customer needs identified, No.2 in the ranking was a desire for vehicle cabins to protect occupants from every angle in the most violent of collisions.

“Why can't our vehicles provide as much occupant protection as we see on TV with some of the violent car crashes during NASCAR races?” one survey respondent asked.

Buyers also want confidence that doors and windows won't become inoperable in a collision, leaving them trapped.

Minivan and cross/utility vehicle owners are among the most highly focused on child safety, Thomas says. Many of those surveyed asked for glass that won't shatter and injure occupants in a collision; warnings if rear passengers unbuckle their seatbelts; and alerts if child seats are improperly secured.

Consumers also are more open to active safety systems that would, say, take over braking control when a collision appears imminent.

“We've seen a major shift in this since 2003,” Thomas says. “People are much more receptive to their vehicles being proactive. Previously, people wanted to control everything themselves; they though they were quicker. That has changed.”

Making the wish list top 100 are seatbelts that automatically adjust to the occupant's height and weight.

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