Most Car Owners/Lessees Agree That Today's Vehicles Could Be Considered Technological Devices

Thinking About Technology that Allows for the Collection and Transmission of Driver and Vehicle Data, Nine in Ten Believe the Vehicle Owner Should Control Who Has Access to the Data

The author(s)

  • Chris Jackson Senior Vice President, US, Public Affairs
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Washington, DC, May 2, 2019 — Three quarters of American car owners/lessees say that they are fascinated by new technology (73%) and another 67% agree that they prefer to purchase products equipped with the latest technology. According to the recent online survey conducted by Ipsos on behalf of Auto Care Association, just over six in ten admit that they are extremely dependent on technology throughout their daily life (61%).

  • Men, adults under the age of 35, the more affluent, those with children living at home, and those with a college degree are significantly more likely to report being fascinated by technology and to prefer products that feature the latest technology compared to their demographic counterparts. Adults making up these segments are also much more likely to report being extremely dependent on technology in their daily lives, though no differences emerge here across gender.

There are very few who deny that technology today has the capability to collect a variety of data about people’s personal lives (6% vs. 94% who agree). Financial institutions (55%), healthcare companies (53%) and health insurance companies (52%) are most likely to be trusted by car owners when it comes to data protection, while nearly half say that they are confident in the ability of car insurance companies (49%) and vehicle manufacturers (47%) to protect their personal data. Confidence drops below this threshold when it comes to technology companies (44%), independent auto repair shops (43%), credit card companies (43%), the federal government (39%), retailers (38%), cell phone manufacturers (33%) and service providers (34%), email providers (30%) and social media sites (18%).

  • Young adults (ages 18-34) and those with children living at home are consistently more likely to express confidence in the ability of different entities to protect their personal data compared to adults over the age of 35 and those with no children, respectively.

Thinking about technology in vehicles, most American vehicle owners/lessees agree that today's vehicles have so much technology in them they could be considered technological devices (88%). Another six in ten say that they specifically look for new tech features in vehicles when thinking of purchasing or leasing a vehicle (59%), and this is especially true among men (65%), adults between the ages of 18-34 (73%), the more affluent (64%), those with children living at home (68%), and those with a college degree (64%).

Whereas the advancements in safety technology in vehicles make eight in ten (80%) feel safer on the road, a sizeable proportion also believe that technological advancements in vehicles are making drivers too dependent on safety features (70%). Moreover, half (50%) report being skeptical of new technology in vehicles and another 45% say that they prefer vehicles with less technological features.

  • Skepticism towards new technology in vehicles is most prominent among older adults (56% of those age 55+ vs. 48% of those under the age of 35), those earning less than $50,000 annually (58% vs. 46% of those earning more), and those with no college degree (52% vs. 47% of those with a degree). Adults from these segments are also more likely to prefer cars with less technological features and feel as though technological advancements in vehicles are making drivers too dependent on safety features.

Automotive Telematics

When asked if they have heard of telematics, most American car owners/lessees admit that they have not heard anything at all about this concept (72%) – versus three in ten who say that they have heard a great deal/some/only a little about this concept (28%). Men (37% vs. 18% of women), adults under the age of 35 (44% vs. 17% of those age 55+), the more affluent (32% vs. 18% of those earning less than $50,000 annually), parents with children living at home (38% vs. 23% of those with no kids), and those with a college degree (34% vs. 22% of those with no degree) are among those most likely to say that they have heard of telematics.

When told that “telematics” are systems that allow and facilitate the two-way transmission of computerized automobile data including diagnostic information, geographic location, mileage, and driver behavior, familiarity among all respondents increases to 37% (vs. 63% who say that they are not familiar). Among those who have heard a great deal/some/only a little, nearly half say that they are very/somewhat familiar with the concept (46% vs. 54% who are not very/not at all familiar).

About half of those surveyed say that if they were to rename this process of their vehicle collecting and transmitting data, they would call it ‘vehicle data’ (52%). ‘Automotive data’ (43%) and ‘vehicle informatics’ (40%) round out the top three, with two in five saying they would rename telematics as such. Fewer would opt to rename the process of their vehicle collecting and transmitting data ‘connected cars’ (28%), ‘car data’ (22%), or ‘wireless data’ (15%).

Opinions are split when it comes to who they think OWNS the data produced by telematics in a vehicle, with 49% saying it is the vehicle manufacturer versus 45% who assume it is the vehicle owner. Only 6% believe that car dealerships own the data produced by telematics.

  • Whereas a greater proportion of women (53% vs. 44% of men) and those earning less than $50,000 annually (53% vs. 47% of those earning more) assume it is the vehicle manufacturer owns the data produced by telematics in a vehicle, men (48% vs. 42% of women) and adults over the age of 55 (50% vs. 39% of those age 18-34) stand out as being more likely to think it is the vehicle owner that owns this data.

When it comes to who they assume has access to the driver and vehicle data, including maintenance and repair information, a majority believe that the vehicle owner (71%) and vehicle manufacturer (59%) have access, while at least two in five say the same thing of insurance companies (45%), dealerships (43%), and any auto repair shops that service the vehicle (43%). Not quite as many believe that manufacturer-owned repair shops (39%) or law enforcement personnel (31%) have access to the driver and vehicle data.

Thinking about who they think SHOULD have access to the driver and vehicle data, including maintenance and repair information, respondents are most likely to think the vehicle owner is entitled to this information (86%). Women (89% vs. 82% of men), adults over the age of 55 (90% vs. 79% of those under 35), and those with no children living at home (88% vs. 80% of those with kids) are especially likely to feel this way. This time, other mentions such as auto repair shops (36%), vehicle manufacturers (33%), manufacturer owned repair shops (25%), dealerships (23%), insurance companies (22%), and law enforcement (18%) fall further behind, with fewer thinking that these entities SHOULD have access to the drive and vehicle data.

There is consensus when it comes to who American car owners/lessees believe should DECIDE who has access to driver and vehicle data, with nearly nine in ten (88%) stating that this should be up to the vehicle owner, versus 11% who believe the vehicle manufacturer should decide. Similarly, more than nine in ten (92%) are in favor of vehicle owners having the ability to control who has access to their data (versus 8% who oppose this).

  • While women, older adults, and those with no kids at home are more likely to believe vehicle owners should have the right to decide who has access to the data, men, adults under the age of 35, and parents are more likely to think the manufacturer should decide.

Themes such as choice (31%) and control (28%) are most impactful when thinking about supporting vehicle owners deciding who has access to the driver and vehicle data. Another one in five say that transparency is most impactful to them (21%), while themes such as unfair advantage/monopoly (12%) and regulations (8%) are least likely to resonate among respondents when it comes to supporting vehicle owners having the right to decide who has access to the driver and vehicle data.

About the Sample

Most adults surveyed say that they own their vehicle (79%), while 6% lease. The remaining 15% who do not own or lease a vehicle did not qualify for this study. Among car owners/lessees, one in four are planning to purchase their next vehicle within the next 12 months (24%), while nearly half (49%) are planning to wait longer. A quarter (26%) currently have no plans to purchase a new vehicle. When it comes to leasing a vehicle, just over half (56%) have no plans to lease a new vehicle anytime soon, though 15% plan to lease a new vehicle within the next year.

Just over half (52%) report that their car model is no more than five years old, including 28% who say the model year of their current vehicle is 2018 to 2016. Nearly three in ten currently drive a car model from in 2007 – 2012 (28%), while one in five own/lease a car that is from 2006 and before (21%).

The bulk of car owners/lessees report going to dealership service centers (41%) or local auto repair shops (35%) for their vehicle’s regular maintenance. Roughly one in ten typically turn to retail auto service locations (13%, i.e., Jiffy Lube) or repair their own vehicle (10%).

When it comes to obtaining information on automotive technology, respondents are most likely to turn to their family/friends for advice (48%), though another 42% will seek out information from vehicle manufacturers. Industry specific websites (27%) are consulted by roughly one in four when looking for information on automotive technology, while not quite one in five turn to trade magazines (19%), cable or broadcast (18%), or independent repair shops (17%). At least one in ten opt to obtain information from Facebook (15%), the newspaper automotive section (15%), or the radio (10%). Other mentions fall below this threshold.

About the Study

These are the findings from an Ipsos poll conducted August 22 – 30, 2018 on behalf of the Auto Care Association. For the survey, a sample of 4,581 adults ages 18 and over from the continental U.S., Alaska and Hawaii was interviewed online, in English. This includes 3,854 adults who currently own or lease a vehicle. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of ±1.7 percentage points for all respondents and ±1.8 percentage points for car owners/lessees.

The sample for this study was randomly drawn from Ipsos’s online panel (see link below for more info on “Access Panels and Recruitment”), partner online panel sources, and “river” sampling (see link below for more info on the Ipsos “Ampario Overview” sample method) and does not rely on a population frame in the traditional sense. Ipsos uses fixed sample targets, unique to each study, in drawing sample. After a sample has been obtained from the Ipsos panel, Ipsos calibrates respondent characteristics to be representative of the U.S. Population using standard procedures such as raking-ratio adjustments. The source of these population targets is U.S. Census 2016 American Community Survey data. The sample drawn for this study reflects fixed sample targets on demographics. Post-hoc weights were made to the population characteristics on gender, age, region, race/ethnicity and income.

Statistical margins of error are not applicable to online nonprobability sampling polls. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error and measurement error. Where figures do not sum to 100, this is due to the effects of rounding. Ipsos calculates a design effect (DEFF) for each study based on the variation of the weights, following the formula of Kish (1965). This study had a credibility interval adjusted for design effect of the following (n=4,581, DEFF=1.5, adjusted Confidence Interval=3.2 and n=3,854, DEFF 1.5, adjusted Confidence Interval=3.3).

For more information about conducting research intended for public release or Ipsos’ online polling methodology, please visit our Public Opinion Polling and Communication page where you can download our brochure, see our public release protocol, or contact us.

For more information on this news release, please contact:

Chris Jackson
Vice President, U.S.
Ipsos Public Affairs
+1 202 420-2025
[email protected]

Marie-Pierre Lemay
Senior Account Manager, U.S.
Ipsos Public Affairs
+1 613 793-1622
[email protected]

About Ipsos

Ipsos is an independent market research company controlled and managed by research professionals. Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos has grown into a worldwide research group with a strong presence in all key markets. Ipsos ranks fourth in the global research industry.

With offices in 89 countries, Ipsos delivers insightful expertise across five research specializations: brand, advertising and media; customer loyalty; marketing; public affairs research; and survey management.
Ipsos researchers assess market potential and interpret market trends. They develop and build brands. They help clients build long-term relationships with their customers. They test advertising and study audience responses to various media and they measure public opinion around the globe.
Ipsos has been listed on the Paris Stock Exchange since 1999 and generated global revenues of €1,749.5 million in 2018.

The author(s)

  • Chris Jackson Senior Vice President, US, Public Affairs