How consumers define safety has changed over the past nine months, especially concerning vehicles and transportation.
That’s according to Volvo, which partnered with The Harris Poll to survey drivers about an array of pandemic-related issues.
“Volvo Reports: Safety First: The Evolution of Driving and Mobility in 2020” explores how safety, mobility and driving have evolved in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Health-related items now supersede features like automatic braking. An air conditioner with built-in germ filtering (desired by 53%) and sanitization procedures incorporated within the standard maintenance package (desired by 52%) are the new “wish list” items.
People are also looking for ways to make items like masks, sanitizer, and disinfectant more accessible in their vehicles. Examples of innovations consumers crave include having a phone sanitizer in the console or a designated place to store a mask in the car (43%).
Nearly half of drivers (46%) say they wear a mask behind the wheel, including a majority of men (51%) and Gen Z-ers (59%).
Americans are reevaluating their relationships with the outside world, and many are looking at their cars and homes to provide secure protection.
The survey found 82% believe “safety” has a broader definition now than it did just six months ago Even after the pandemic ends, most expect to continue using personal vehicles more, while a similar percentage say they plan to use less public transportation (50%) and shared riding services (47%).
Two-thirds of those under 40 years old (Gen Z and millennials) either have bought or are considering buying a car due to the pandemic (65%), saying they’d like to “upgrade their car” to be more safe or comfortable during this time (62%).
Drivers are also more likely to seek vehicle brands that are trustworthy (84%) and known for safety (81%) during this time, while transitioning away from buying “flashy” cars, as 67% cite it is not tasteful in the current economic climate. Two-thirds (63%) say they would pay more of a premium for vehicle safety today than they would a year ago.
While the daily commute was once a source of stress for drivers, prolonged periods working from home have changed this dynamic. Cars are now serving new and different roles for Americans, with nearly eight in 10 even calling them a “lifeline” during the pandemic (78%).
Americans are relying on their cars as an “escape” from the weight of what has been a difficult year -- but are doing so in a variety of ways.
The survey found 63% report that driving helps them relieve stress -- including three in four millennials (75%). More than half of new parents (55%) have used their car as an “alone zone."
Commuting stress has decreased by 20% compared to 2018, with many eliminating this time altogether. Ironically, two-thirds now actually miss something about the commute (67%).
Nearly half of millennials (46%) miss having this time to themselves every day, while 48% of Gen Z commuters miss having the opportunity to listen to music or a podcast. Alternatively, more than half of boomers do not miss anything about commuting (53%).
This research includes two surveys: one conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of Volvo from Sept. 15 to 22, and one on Sept. 30 to Oct. 13. Both surveyed 2,002 licensed adults ages 18 and older. These were not based on a probability sample, so no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.