TROY, MICHIGAN (WWJ) When customers shop for technology in their cars, what they prize most is anything that improves fuel economy.

“We’re finding that these features actually resonate quite strongly with customers,” said Mike VanNieuwkuyk, executive director of global automotive at J.D. Power and Associates. “There’s a high degree of interest in managing our fuel spend.”

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These findings, as part of J.D. Power’s annual Emerging Technologies Study, also show that buyers are interested in systems that allow them to connect their smart phones with cars.

But most of those devices finish behind systems that save fuel.

And, VanNieuwkuyk says it’s not as much about saving the world as it is about saving money.

“The dealers and the auto manufacturers really need to do some work here to show consumers that if you make investments in certain types of features that will save you at the gas pump that over a certain period of time you’ll recoup your investment.”

The J.D. Power study shows that customers will easily pay for a feature that saves them money in the long term, and will pay for features—like connectivity—that allow them to take their lives into their cars.

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They are less likely to pay for technologies that are less proven, like voice activation.

And when it comes to safety devices. VanNieuwkuyk says people want them, but don’t want to pay for them.

“Consumers expect safety features to be in the vehicle. “

Car buyers are also thinking more about vehicles that drive themselves. Just like last year, about 20 percent of buyers say they’d consider paying $5,000 extra for a self-driving car. But, now they are less likely to think of those vehicles as fantasy cars and trucks, and are thinking more about technologies that take control off the vehicle briefly to prevent accidents.

“They are becoming more educated,” said VanNieuwkuyk. “Now they are starting to ask the questions, does it work, how does it work, can I trust it.”

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