Car Drivers' Hankering For...

A recent study conducted by Accenture, the global consulting firm, has revealed some interesting, albeit unsurprising, proclivities...

A recent study conducted by Accenture, the global consulting firm, has revealed some interesting, albeit unsurprising, proclivities of car drivers in a dozen countries, including China, Indonesia, Malaysia and South Korea.

The first 3 Asian countries named above were amongst the countries which possessed the strongest interest in in-vehicle connectivity and digital services. China ranks highest in existing usage of such technologies. 40% of the survey’s respondents indicated that the main criteria for car purchasing is in-car technology (carmakers focusing on China, which is just about everyone, take note).

A whopping 90% indicated an interest in autonomous technologies, primarily if they are related to safety, specifically collision and lane-changing warning systems, automatic braking and parking systems.

The survey also revealed that drivers are interested in vehicle health reports and vehicle lifecycle management service, yet very few of them actually use such technologies. The report makes the connection between this and the eagerness towards vehicle connectivity - if detailed data could be extracted from vehicles, then it would help automakers in improving the engineering process and manage warranty costs, while dealers would be able to manage inventories and improve services.

Communication could be two-directional - businesses would be able to channel data back into the vehicle. Indonesian drivers are most likely, amongst those surveyed, to pay for connectivity services via a one time purchase for a predetermined period. They are the most interested in real-time entertainment, such as social media and gaming, as well as productivity and educational services, like email and e-learning. Perhaps this stems from long hours of boredom currently experienced in daily commutes that could sometimes span 4 hours or more during the Indonesian cities’ infamous traffic jams.

Meanwhile, the Germans would prefer such services for free, funded by advertisers. Interestingly, the Germans are also the least interested in maintenance-related services. If stereotypes are to be believed, perhaps they are so organised that they don’t need a computer to tell them when to change their oil (heck, most of them can probably overhaul their own engines). 
However, whether drivers would mind that data from their vehicles is involuntarily being collected or 'pushed in' by businesses is a matter to contend with, which the report does not address. In an increasingly connected world, safeguarding personal data and managing spam are issues to be concerned with. Besides collecting information regarding vehicle condition, the technology can just as easily track the vehicle’s location, and the driver’s preferred routes and destinations (a dream feature of would-be kidnappers and suspicious spouses). Perhaps future cars’ safeguards are not limited to just locked doors and shatterproof windows, but will also incorporate data privacy settings, just like Facebook accounts.

South Koreans’ interest lies in travel services that encompass live traffic updates and points of interest indications. They are also the highest users of ‘black box’ insurance services. ‘Black box’ is exactly what you think it is, except in this case it is for cars, not aircrafts. The gadget is usually fitted on the dashboard to monitor the driver’s competency, some even recording audio and visual. It becomes especially useful during an accident, to prove the driver’s innocence and reduce insurance costs. The trend actually started about 5 years ago when taxi drivers began using the black box as a ‘witness’ to passengers alighting without paying. More than 2.2 million of such devices are presently in use, with one particularly creative broadcaster even airing morning segments of car crash clips recorded by the black boxes. With such a curious subject matter for a show, we wonder if the audience tuning into this ‘reality show’ have some form of paraphilia (remember the 1996 film, Crash?)

Back to the survey findings, Malaysian drivers are rather more keen on parking features, wanting parking space detection and parking assistance. Although land value in Malaysia is nowhere near as high as Hong Kong (see our article about an exorbitantly expensive parking lot on that tiny island), it is still relatively limited compared to larger Asian neighbours like China or Indonesia. Compounded with the statistic that vehicle ownership in the country is 361 for every 1000 people (World Bank, 2010), which is one of the highest numbers in Asia, looking for a parking lot is sometimes akin to trying to sight dry land while sailing the Pacific Ocean.

image: boisechevy.com

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