FutureStructure

Consumers Like Vehicles with 'Gateway Technologies' to Driverless Cars

If consumers continue to accept these technologies, manufacturers will keep moving toward developing autonomous vehicles.

by Terry Box, The Dallas Morning News / July 29, 2016
(AP/Tony Avelar)

(TNS) -- Consumers like the driver-assist technologies that are being added to new vehicles, according to a J.D. Power APEAL study released today.

The study found that new vehicles equipped with safety features such as blind-spot monitoring and low-speed collision-avoidance have overall APEAL scores higher than vehicles without it.

The features are considered "gateway technologies" to autonomous, self-driving vehicles. If consumers continue to accept these technologies, manufacturers will keep moving toward developing autonomous vehicles.

"Technology-enabled safety features help drivers feel more comfortable and confident while driving their vehicles," said Renee Stephens, vice president of U.S. automotive quality at J.D. Power.

However, the recent fatal accident in Florida involving a Tesla Model S with an Autopilot system is likely to prompt a lengthy debate on the degree of autonomy that manufacturers should put into future vehicles.

The Tesla's semi-autonomous Autopilot system was apparently functioning at the time of the accident and may have failed to react when a truck pulled in front of the Tesla.

Meanwhile, some automakers like Toyota doubt that full autonomy will ever be achieved simply because driving involves too many variables for a computer to anticipate.

Nonetheless, driver-assist features are likely to continue to be popular with consumers.

The top five brands in the APEAL study -- which stands for Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout -- were all high-end vehicles that offer a variety of driver-assist technologies.

They were Porsche (with a score of 877 on a scale of 1,000); BMW (859); Jaguar (852); Mercedes-Benz (also 852) and Lexus (843).

The study measures owners' emotional attachment to their vehicles and how they feel about 77 of their attributes.

©2016 The Dallas Morning News. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.