Automakers Viewed As Consumer Tech Leaders


Washington, DC — Americans want “smart” technology — and automakers show multiple signs of tech leadership to provide it, according to a nationwide poll conducted by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (Auto Alliance) in advance of the largest automotive presence ever at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

“Consumers want auto technology because it improves their life in some way, whether through driver assists like blind spot monitoring on the road or GPS mapping to make their travel easier,” said Mitch Bainwol, president & CEO, Auto Alliance.  “The auto industry is undergoing an amazing metamorphosis and becoming high tech leaders to improve mobility and meet new customer needs.”

Some key findings of the poll show:

  • Overall, 57% of respondents said it is very/somewhat important to own devices equipped with “smart” technology, while 28% said it is not very important and 12% said it is not important at all.
  • 15% of respondents consider themselves “early adopters” of technology, while 51% keep up with trends but do not purchase items immediately and 25% wait until technology is mainstream.  Only 8% are uninterested in the latest technology.
  • 52% said current cars possess cutting-edge technology and exhibit high levels of innovation.
  • When thinking about the most desirable products with smart technology, respondents cited:  home technology like light, temperature and security controls (37%), followed by autos (24%), home appliances (8%), and personal items like watches (7%).
  • Younger respondents are more interested in smart technology in cars, compared to older Americans who want technology in their homes.  Respondents under the age of 29 said they “would most like to have smart technology” in cars (31%) vs. homes (33%), while respondents 65 or older want technology in their homes (42%) vs. their cars (16%).
  • Public opinion was divided over what technology measure best demonstrates that the auto industry is high tech:  number of computers used in operating a vehicle (21%); extensive vehicle laboratory testing (19%); use of automotive nanotechnology (17%); focus on artificial intelligence (13%).
  • The sign of a high tech industry overall were:  a large research & development budget (30%); introducing new technology in vehicles each year (28%); competing with Silicon Valley companies for engineers and designers (8%); a major presence at the Consumer Electronic Show (8%); and filing a large number of patents each year (7%).

“Regarding R&D budgets, automakers invested more than $100 billion globally in 2013, almost four times what the entire global aerospace and defense industry spent ($25.5 billion).  The auto industry ranks among the top recipients of U.S. patents, with 3-5% of all patents — or about 5000 patents a year — awarded to auto companies,” said Bainwol.  “And, auto companies have a growing presence at the largest consumer electronics show.”

During January 6-9, 2016, more than 150,000 people will converge in Las Vegas for the International Consumer Electronics Show.  This year, visitors will be greeted by a record number of automotive showcases. Events such as automotive technology forums, panels, and discussions, will focus on topics ranging from the future of self-driving cars to how connectivity enhances the driving experience. (Click here to see more about International CES automotive programing.)

The auto industry’s greater presence at the International CES underscores the ever growing links between cutting-edge consumer technologies and the today’s cars.  With nine automakers and more than 100 automotive technology companies in attendance, automotive-related floor exhibits are expected to cover over 200,000 square feet – a 25 percent increase from a year ago.

The Auto Alliance Auto Index was conducted November 16–December 13, 2015, by Pulse Opinion Research among 4,660 adult vehicle owners in the United States. The survey has a margin of sampling error of +/- 3 percentage points with a 95 percent level of confidence.

The Auto Alliance is a trade association including BMW Group, FCA US LLC, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Jaguar Land Rover, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz USA, Mitsubishi Motors, Porsche, Toyota, Volkswagen Group of American and Volvo.  For more information, visit