IBM driver study shows what consumers want in cars

Phil Berg
Special to The Detroit News

Drivers want their cars to be smarter and do more things for themselves and their owners, according to results of a study announced Tuesday by IBM. And they don’t necessarily want to purchase cars outright.

"It all comes down to the consumer experience," said David Taylor, director of automotive connected services for Panasonic, which is involved with a cooperative effort that includes Ford Motor Co. and other carmakers. Survey results were released Tuesday, as part of the Detroit auto show press preview days.

According to Donna Satterfield, IBM Automotive vice president, the four major things learned from the driver study are that consumers want their cars to learn, diagnose problems, fix and drive themselves and enable their human users to socialize.

Of the roughly 16,000 people surveyed worldwide, 42 percent would consider alternative ownership modes such as subscription pricing; 24 percent were very interested in fractional ownership of vehicles.

Thirty-nine percent of consumers would consider a car-sharing model and 36 percent would choose the on-demand ride-sharing option.

While globally 67 percent surveyed agreed that it is still important to buy a vehicle in person from a dealership, automakers themselves and online brokers are empowering consumers to make smarter purchasing decisions.

"You're seeing our involvement in little pieces right now," said Satterfield, "such as in the signs that tell you how many spaces are left in parking garages, and in weather reports available in cars."

"We're all looking for how to become more productive during our day," said Taylor. That includes optimizing routes in navigation systems for drivers, and warning of vehicle wear and road conditions.

The IMB study also found that consumers want to be included in automotive design.

Survey respondents showed a high interest in crowd sourcing ideas online and participating in design games and contests. Some 37 percent, the study found, indicated they would be willing to have their driving and mobility data used to help in vehicle design.