Young People Driving the Connected Car Revolution? Maybe Not.

Younger people have been first to adopt almost all new technologies, and I expected that it would be no different with the mobility apps and services that are emerging around the connected car ecosystem. I was a bit surprised at what we found in our recent driver survey, fielded by Edison Research and looking specifically at connected car owners and drivers who plan to buy a car in the next year.

Drivers Aged 35-54 Express the Strongest Interest in Connected Car Services

When it comes to features that will soon be available in cars, drivers aged 35-54 expressed slightly more interest than their younger counterparts in the 18-34 year age group. The exceptions to this trend were the two “convenience” apps we asked about in the survey—on-demand fueling and in-vehicle delivery—and the two marketing-related services, for location- and time-aware coupons and digital billboards. With respect to these more commercial services, younger drivers expressed significantly more interest than their fellow drivers over 35.

Drivers over 55, however, expressed the least amount of interest in services based on connected car data. While safety-related services generated interest comparable to that of younger age groups, services for the public good (improving the quality of roads or reducing emissions) and the more commercial services did not appeal to most of the older drivers in our survey.

Only the Oldest Consumers Show a Difference in Willingness to Share Connected Car Data

Of those drivers who expressed interest in specific connected car services, age made a difference in their willingness to share their data—especially for those drivers over 55. Again, drivers in the 35-54 age group emerged as the group most likely to be willing to share anonymous or personal connected car data for the purpose of safety, both their own safety and that of all drivers (for example, by improving the quality of roads). Many of these drivers have families, and that may play a role in their decision. I know that for me personally, safety is always top-of-mind when I’m driving my family around town or on a road trip.

Younger and Older Drivers Have Different Reasons for Sharing Automotive Data

So how do consumers of different ages make the decision whether or not to allow an app to collect data? The top two reasons that consumers say are very important are trustworthiness off the app/ company and transparency, knowing exactly what the data is being used for an who has access to it. These two factors were an even stronger motivation to grant permission among older drivers than among younger ones. Physical safety comes next, and we saw the same trend more older drivers saying that it is very important than their younger counterparts.

On the other hand, 21% of 55+ drivers say that knowing other people who use an app is not at all important in their decision, compared with just 8% of 18-34 year old drivers. 16% of those older drivers say that getting something for free is not at all important, compared with 6% of 18-34 year old drivers. Yet 10% of these younger drivers say that transparency is somewhat unimportant or not at all important, compared to just 6% of drivers 35 and over.

Avoiding traffic and saving money were cited as “very important” by more drivers in the 35-54 year old range, where we find more people living in family units and driving kids from (expensive) lesson to lesson.

Which Age Groups Trust Car Manufacturers with Their Data?

In general, we found that older drivers had less trust in companies and government organizations to share their data, and this was also true of their trust in OEMs. Looking at this statistic with the context of drivers’ interest in the mobility services presented in our survey, I believe that OEMs will see much less adoption among their oldest drivers.

Key Takeaway for Automotive OEMs

Look at these demographic differences when you plan your connected car strategy and design campaigns to educate consumers about all of the new possibilities that will soon be available to them. Focus on safety and cost savings with family-oriented models and make sure to bring in convenience and fun when marketing to your youngest car buyers.

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