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Why Generation Y is in the driving seat for the connected car

The connected car will be a reality within a few years, as enhanced safety, economy and entertainment features become standard issue on most new cars. So how do the drivers of the future feel about the car of tomorrow? According to newly released data from our Connected Car study, based on a survey of 5,800 consumers across six markets, connected cars hold most appeal for Generation Y.

Of all those surveyed in our study, Generation Y, those aged 16-34, are most enthusiastic about the prospect of the connected car. While the full range of connected car concepts appeals to Generation Y, the most desirable feature to this audience is a car that parks itself. 70% claim to have an interest in a car that can identify a parking space of the right size and undertake the parking maneuver automatically. Other features that appeal to this age group include in-car CCTV to record views from around the vehicle and notify police in case of an accident (64%), a windshield display showing maps and other navigational information (64%), an in-car Wi-Fi hot spot (63%) and in-car biometrics (63%).

Generation Y are most likely to want a car to reflect their personality

60% of Generation Y respondents agree they want a car to reflect their personality, compared to just 22% of the oldest drivers in our survey. In contrast, Generation Y care the least about fuel efficiency or user-friendly technology. Having the latest technology is important to them, in fact half (51%) would pay more to have this in their car. Without a doubt, a significant number of Generation Y drivers are passionate about cars: after 35-44 year olds, they are most likely to say that they are expert about cars (30%) and nearly half (47%) love talking about cars. One third has taken their passion to social media and sent texts or blogged about their experiences behind the wheel.

With younger drivers showing such high levels of engagement with cars, it is clear that there is a significant lifestyle element to their choice of car. Generation Y want their car to be more than just a transport solution. The connected car presents many opportunities for manufacturers to meet that need. The challenge will be to create the right mix of features that offer the practical solutions younger drivers crave, such as automatic parking and in-car connectivity, together with enhancements that fulfill the desire to have a car that expresses their individuality.

Generation Y are attracted by features that enhance the driving experience

When we asked 16-24s which out of seven connected car concepts most appealed to them, a significant number cited enhanced safety (“Ultra Safe”) (63%) and “Data Tracker” features (53%), but almost half (48%) expressed a desire for “Entertainment” and “Self-drive” features too. 16-24s found these features more appealing than any other age group in most cases. However, the concepts that appeal to younger drivers don’t just relate to enhanced safety and data tracking features. They are attracted by the features that relate to the actual driving experience as well.

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Less than half will pay extra for the features they want in the connected car

Are Generation Y prepared to pay for what they want? Up to a point, yes they are. They like the sound of enhanced safety features, but only 17% might pay extra for them. This is in common with other respondents. Enhanced safety is something consumers at large want, but they expect it to come as standard rather than to have to pay a premium. When it comes to the lifestyle features associated with the connected car, Generation Y are prepared to pay – more so than older respondents. 41% of Generation Y would pay extra for enhanced entertainment features compared to 12%-35% for other age groups. 37% will pay more for “Life Manager” features, once again the highest proportion out of all age groups in our survey.

Members of Generation Y are without doubt ready for the connected car, but, with less than half willing to pay extra for any of these concepts, it is clear that even this most receptive of audiences still needs a lot more convincing.

Generation Y or Gen Y consumers (also often referred to as Millennials) followed the consumer segment known as Generation X. The children of Baby Boomers or Generation X, they will have been born between 1982 and 2000 and are an attractive target audience for brands.

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Frank Haertl is Global Lead Automotive for GfK.

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