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December 12, 2018

On-demand in-car audio ‘doubles in five years’ – study

A study by Nissan has found that in-car connectivity is changing the way drivers enjoy audio behind the wheel. Motorists listening to streamed and on-demand in-car entertainment has more than doubled in the past five years, the study found.

By Sam Duke

A study by Nissan has found that in-car connectivity is changing the way drivers enjoy audio behind the wheel. Motorists listening to streamed and on-demand in-car entertainment has more than doubled in the past five years, the study found.

Over the same period, the in-car playing of CDs and other physical formats of music declined by 50%.

Compared to five years ago, before the launch of mainstream smartphone-mirroring systems like Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, the number of drivers that now mostly listen to on-demand entertainment via smartphones has more than doubled.

In a survey of 2,000 UK motorists, one in six (15.4%) said they prefer to listen to podcasts, audiobooks, downloaded playlists or streamed music direct from their smartphones. Five years ago, this was the case for just one in 12 drivers (8.0%).

Compact Discs have seen a steep decline in usage. Just 11% of drivers still listen to 'hard' formats of audio, such as CDs, compared to more than a quarter (27%) five years ago.

In spite of this buyer demand, less than half (46%) of respondents admitted they knew how to work all of their in-car entertainment technology. However, a third said they are glad they drive now compared to 30 years ago when in-car technology wasn't so advanced.

The study also found 60% of drivers think driving is 'more fun' if they are able to listen to music or other forms of entertainment.

Ponz Pandikuthira, vice president, Product Planning, Nissan Europe, said: "In-car connectivity is one of the major transformational technologies of the automotive industry, and a pillar of the Nissan Intelligent Mobility vision for the future of motoring.

"Today, largely through smartphone connectivity, we have an infinite library of content at our fingertips. It's perhaps no surprise that driver preferences are shifting towards on-demand and streamed services, rather than scheduled broadcasts or offline audio formats such as CD."

Nissan points out that for almost 100 years, the primary means of receiving broadcasted information into vehicles has been through the radio antenna, or aerial. The first AM-receiving in-car radio system debuted in 1932, followed by a FM version in 1952. Entertainment via the air waves has also been accompanied over the decades by physical formats such as audio cassette and CD, but these are now fast-fading from daily usage.

Pandikuthira added: "Within the next decade, the integrated systems in our vehicles will be processing huge amounts of data. We'll be streaming audio, navigational and visual information, entirely through cellular transmissions, with 4G and 5G connection speeds required to manage this data demand.

"As a result, by 2030, it's entirely feasible that the car aerial – in the form we know it today – may be another feature consigned to the automotive history books."

Reflecting the rise in demand for in-car connectivity, a 2018 survey conducted in the USA found that 25% of car buyers would not consider a vehicle that couldn't mirror their smartphone in some way.

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