Good news, Detroit fans: according to J.D. Power, America's new-car shoppers are turning increasingly to the Big Three for high-tech innovation.
That revelation comes courtesy of Power's 2014 Avoider study, which surveyed approximately 29,000 new-car owners between July and September of 2013. The goal of the annual study is to understand what draws shoppers to some brands and what makes them shun others.
The biggest finding in the 2014 survey was that, among those who purchased a domestic-brand automobile, 38 percent said that high-tech conveniences were a top priority. When foreign-brand buyers were asked the same thing, though, only 33 percent said that they cared about forward-thinking technology.
That could point to strong sales down the road for Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors. Detroit seems to be earning a reputation for innovation, which will serve it well as infotainment, navigation, advanced safety systems, and automation become increasingly important to shoppers. As Power's Jon Osborn says, "Domestic brands in general are carving out a niche for themselves by offering vehicles with the latest technological features, and it appears to be getting the attention of consumers."
AND NOW, THE BAD NEWS
That said, it's not all wine and roses for the big three. Consumers consider a range of factors when shopping for new vehicles, and though technology is typically in the top ten, it's not the first thing folks think about.
Power found that luxury-car shoppers prioritize performance features like power and handling when shopping for a new ride. That's followed by the quality of the vehicle (as seen in the materials and construction), exterior styling, the brand's "image" (e.g. sporty, luxurious, safe, etc.), and, rounding out the top five, reliability.
Those looking for mass-market vehicles, on the other hand, ranked fuel economy as their most important concern, followed by reliability and getting a good deal. Exterior styling and performance were also important to those shoppers.
Power says that, on the whole, fuel economy is the most important factor to most shoppers, and apart from price, it's the second-most common reason that shoppers reject particular models.
Interestingly, though, fuel economy isn't what motivates most electric car buyers. Their top priority? "Environmental concerns."
Considering the shape that the auto industry was in just a few years ago, Power's Avoider study offers some impressively good news for Detroit. The Big Three deserve a big pat on the back for laying the groundwork for future success -- even if most of them still need to do a good bit of work on the tech front.