Survey: Connected Car Drivers Want Traffic Updates, Not Streaming Movies

Audi A3 with 4G LTE connectivity

A car's ability to stream video and receive social media updates takes a backseat to driving-related technology, according to a new report

As auto manufacturers invest heavily in broadband car connectivity that allows drivers and passengers to stream movies, send and receive texts and surf the Web on their smart phones and tablets, a just-released survey reveals that the connected car experience may be more about driving than entertainment.

Compass Intelligence surveyed 1,320 drivers who drove a vehicle and own a smart phone. The results indicated that "the primary needs and wants out of technology for in-vehicle wireless broadband is the enhancement of the driving experience," the report said.

The most popular connectivity features were systems that detect when parts are malfunctioning (66 percent) and real-time traffic updates (60 percent).

Surprisingly, given the ongoing debate over distracted driving, the interest in a vehicle’s capability to send and receive texts, emails and social media updates was low. Millennials are most likely to purchase cars with built-in broadband capabilities, but Baby Boomers expressed strong interest, too, the report said.

A separate Harris Poll of 1,033 U.S. vehicle owners, released last month, drew similar conclusions. A large majority (84 percent) prioritize safety features such as blind-spot detection and back-up cameras over infotainment.

Car manufacturers have raced to equip cars with broadband capability — Audi's 2014 A3 sedan was the first to have 4G LTE connectivity, which turns the car into a rolling WiFi hotspot, "baked in" to its infotainment system, and GM is rolling out similar capabilities across many of its 2015 models.  

THR road-tested an A3 equipped with the technology and found that it was able to send and receive simultaneous streams of high-bandwidth data, including Netflix movies and a raw video feed, flawlessly.

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