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Are manufacturers getting ahead of customer demand for in-car tech?

Are auto manufacturers getting ahead of consumers' wallets when it comes to pushing new in-car tech? A new report suggests exactly that.

A new report by TECHnalysis Research, LLC (the firm founded by consumer electronics critic and analyst Bob O'Donnell) reveals the findings of a survey of 1,000 new car owners (and expected repeat buyers) that paint a very traditional picture of consumers' demands for automotive technology.

In an environment where semi-autonomous driving systems and advanced safety features are drawing headlines (both for their availability and their drawbacks), consumers are still more interested in the "big" things--price, practicality, style and performance--when it comes to buying cars.

In fact, none of the features considered to be "technology" cracked the top 50% in survey respondents' feedback.

Price, "car type" (SUV/sedan/etc.), fuel economy, styling, brand experiences and performance were ranked most important by those surveyed, rounding out the top 50%. The bottom 50% consisted of infotainment, connectivity, "in-car tech," "vehicle features," autonomy and whether the vehicle featured hybrid or electric powertrain options--in that order.

"Consumers interest in automotive technologies is definitely increasing," noted O'Donnell, "but they're more interested in the safety-focused tech features than the whiz bang-style autopilot features that some car vendors are touting. In fact, many consumers voiced serious concerns about autonomous driving features, citing safety and reliability issues."

40% of respondents indicated they had an interest in autonomous features. When asked what their biggest concerns regarding that technology was, the one most often cited was (no surprise) safety. Concerns about cost, the risk of early adoption and the unconventional styling of autonomous vehicles were also in the mix.

Even those customers who indicated interest in in-car tech were more inclined to be swayed by the presence of more established technology features such as built-in navigation, outside cameras, HUDs and voice recognition. Gesture recognition, autonomous driving systems and electric powertrains were the least interesting.

Limited information was given about the survey population, however the methodology indicates that all respondents had at least one car in the household and planned to spend an average of $31,173 on a new car within the next two years. The average transaction price for a new vehicle as of June of this year was $33,652 according to Kelley Blue Book.

Average mileage driven per week for respondents was 354. The average age of household vehicles was 8.4 years.