European automakers can anticipate a significant increase in demand for safety features based on a survey conducted by the research firm Frost & Sullivan More than half (55%) of survey respondents acknowledged the need for additional safety mechanisms in their vehicles.
The majority of drivers in Spain and the United Kingdom (72.3% and 61.5% respectively) feel the need for additional safety features, especially those that protect occupants in the event of a collision. "'Traditional occupant protection and braking technologies are preferred over newer active technologies across Europe," said Frost & Sullivan Program Manager Anil Valsan. He cited Anti-lock braking system (ABS), tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) and driver drowsiness warning (DDW) as examples. A majority of respondents across Europe desire front and side airbags, but Valsan noted that respondents generally perceive more value in occupant detection systems than additional airbags.
Among features that aid driver vision, blind spot detection (BSD) and night vision system (NVS) were the most desirable features across Europe, except in the United Kingdom. European drivers generally accept different levels of adaptive cruise control (ACC), however, the study found U.K. drivers to be the least likely to prefer anything beyond the basic ACC. Among features that help maintain the correct speed, intelligent speed adaptation (ISA) with warning was the most preferred option. Technology that prevents drivers from exceeding the speed limit was the least preferred.
Valsan said that only a small percentage of respondents were concerned about collisions with pedestrians. The concern was higher in Italy and Spain, reflecting the driving conditions in those countries. One-third of the respondents were nevertheless willing to buy a vehicle that offers pedestrian protection, even if it costs more.
While manufacturers' reputation was among the least influencing factor across Europe, it had considerable influence on drivers with young children in France and on D and E segment drivers in Germany. The study also found that overall awareness of the European new car assessment program (Euro NCAP) is low across Europe. The prevailing opinion was that a Euro NCAP rating is insufficient to assess vehicle safety and that Euro NCAP should administer more impact scenarios. Despite its low awareness, Euro NCAP ratings were found to be influential in purchase decisions, with 21% of respondents more likely to purchase a vehicle with a good rating.
Respondents to the survey consistently underestimated the price of existing safety features, indicating a lack of awareness about the features’ cost. Valsan said automakers can increase the uptake of safety features by pricing them closer to a psychological pricing "sweet spot" while simultaneously raising awareness levels.
Frost & Sullivan estimates that the European market for active and passive safety systems could exceed Euro 6.60 billion by 2010, with active systems contributing more than 53% of the revenues. "Manufacturers are facing a market that is currently resistant to new, active safety technologies and most of this is due to a lack of awareness," said Valsan. "The success of a safety technology is likely to depend on how well manufacturers communicate and educate drivers in the value of these technologies and their ability to enhance safety.”