DETROIT, April 28, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Trust in automation technology is very much age dependent, as younger consumers have a notably higher level of confidence in the technology than their older counterparts, according to the J.D. Power 2016 U.S. Tech Choice Study,SM released today. Trust in automation technology is a critical step toward the future of automated vehicles.
The study finds that customers are most interested in a number of automotive technology features that make use of the underpinnings of fully automated vehicles, such as radar, sensors, light detection and ranging (LIDAR) and cameras. Features with high consumer interest include smart headlights, night vision, lane change assist, traffic jam assist, medical emergency stop, smart intersection and predictive vehicle control.
However, when it comes to making the leap to fully automated cars, trust in the technology is directly linked to the age of the consumer. More than half of Gen Y (56%) and Gen Z (55%) vehicle owners say they trust self-driving technology, compared with 41% of Gen X, 23% of Baby Boomers and 18% of Pre-Boomers. Further, only 27% of Gen X, 18% of Gen Y and 11% of Gen Z consumers say they "definitely would not" trust the technology, while 39% of Baby Boomers and 40% of Pre-Boomers say the same.
The one view all generations share is a concern for technology security, specifically surrounding privacy and the potential for systems to be hacked, hijacked or to crash (either the vehicle or the system itself).
"The level of trust is directly linked to the level of interest in a new technology among automobile buyers," said Kristin Kolodge, executive director of driver interaction & HMI research at J.D. Power. "Acceptance can be increased with exposure over time and experience with automated technologies. But trust is fragile and can be broken if there is an excessive number of incidents with automated vehicles."
Gen Y and Gen Z vehicle owners are twice as likely as Gen X and five times as likely as Boomers and Pre-Boomers to show interest in certain alternative mobility types, such as mobility sharing/co-ownership, journey-based ownership and mobility on demand. Furthermore, the study finds that 59% of Gen Y vehicle owners say they are "definitely" or "probably" interested in fully automated vehicles and 32% of them would pay $3,000 or more for the technology. Among the four alternative mobility types, interest levels are highest among all generations for unmanned mobility.
Following are some of the additional findings in the 2016 U.S. Tech Choice Study:
• Safety, Not Sticker Shock: When shown the fair market value for the technologies, two of the four safety-related technologies on the top 10 list—night vision ($2,000) and lane change assist ($1,500)—fall out of the top 10, while camera rear-view mirror ($300) and camera side-view mirrors ($400) remain. The most desired features after the price is shown are economy navigation system ($60); simple wireless device connection ($60); camera rear-view mirror ($300); smart parking ($100); and predictive traffic ($150). Among the top 10 most desired technologies, self-healing paint has the highest price point at $500.
• Night Vision—The Right Tech at the Wrong Price: Night vision has the third-highest pre-price interest, with 70% of vehicle owners saying they "definitely would" or "probably would" want the technology in their next vehicle, yet drops to 23rd overall after owners are shown its $2,000 price tag. However, interest in night vision jumps to 36% from 16% when the price for this technology is reduced to $1,400.
• Technologies with the Lowest Interest: Technologies with the lowest consumer interest (pre-price) are trailer connect assist (25%), trailer towing visibility (29%) and full self-driving (34%). Many of these lower interest technologies have specific uses that are relevant to a sub-segment of the buying population. For instance, trailer connect assist interest increases to more than 60% among large SUV and large premium SUV owners. Similarly, only 35% of owners overall want new driver monitoring, yet 58% of owners with children are interested in the technology.
The study, now in its second year, examines consumer awareness, interest and price elasticity of various future and emerging technologies by vehicle make and consumer demographic. The major technology categories analyzed in the study include entertainment & connectivity, comfort & convenience, driving assistance, collision protection, navigation and energy efficiency. Consumer interest in emerging concepts such as alternative mobility solutions, cybersecurity threats, and trust in automated technologies is also explored.
The 2016 U.S. Tech Choice Study was fielded in February through March 2016 and is based on an online survey of more than 7,900 consumers who purchased/leased a new vehicle in the past five years.
 J.D. Power defines the generations as Pre-Boomers (born before 1946); Baby Boomers (1946-1964); Gen X (1965-1976); Gen Y (1977-1994); and Gen Z (1995-2000 for this study).
 Mobility sharing/co-ownership is when the vehicle ownership expenses and usage are shared within a group of people with the goal of optimizing expenses and utilization. Journey-based ownership is flexible-use vehicle fleet ownership based on the user's needs at a fixed price. Mobility on demand is the ability to get a rideshare within minutes of requesting via a mobile app (e.g., Uber or Lyft). Unmanned mobility is when the vehicle drives on its own using predetermined destinations to provide transportation solutions via self-driving automation.