More than 50 percent of consumers desire the ability to play non-standard audio files in their next new vehicle, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2006 U.S. Automotive Emerging Technologies Study released today. The study is designed to measure consumer familiarity, interest and purchase intent for emerging automotive technologies both before and after an estimated market value is revealed. The study finds that at a price point of U.S.$100, 54 percent of consumers express interest in using a USB memory key to listen to their own formats of music in their next new vehicle. Additionally, for the same price point, 58 percent of consumers would like to have an in-vehicle computer hard drive, which would allow them to burn and store their music files in their vehicle’s audio system. At the same time, with the increased use of MP3 players such as iPods, MP3-playing capabilities also garner high interest among consumers. Among iPod owners, 60 percent report that they would be willing to pay U.S. $150 to be able to connect their iPod into their next vehicle’s audio system. “Manufacturers should anticipate a heightened interest and desirability for technologies such as MP3 and USB connectivity options, since portable digital music players have become so popular,” said Larry Wu, senior director of automotive product and quality research at J.D. Power and Associates. “Employing these technologies in new vehicles could help auto manufacturers in their efforts to attract and maintain younger buyers.” The study finds that consumers continue to have high interest in safety/sensing technologies, even after the price point is revealed. At an average market price of U.S. $600, 72 percent of consumers say they “probably” or “definitely” would like to have side impact air bags equipped on their next new vehicle. Side impact air bags are the most desired feature before and after the average market price is revealed. Nearly 40 percent of owners report that they currently have the technology in their vehicles. Run-flat tires, stability control, night vision systems, blind spot detection and backup assist, respectively, follow side impact airbags as features that most interest consumers prior to knowing the estimated market price. The study also finds that premium surround sound continues to be the most desired entertainment feature after the market price (U.S. $400) is revealed. Prior to the introduction of price, 61 percent of consumers express high interest in the feature. Additionally, more than 75 percent of those interested in a premium surround sound system at U.S. $400 say they would pay double for a branded premium surround sound system. The 2006 U.S. Automotive Emerging Technologies Study is based on responses from more than 17,000 U.S. consumers.