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Consumers say they are happy to let technology drive the car (Photo: Cisco)

A new study shows how information and communication technology is assuming an ever bigger role in the entire automotive value chain. A majority of consumers polled for the study also expressed confidence that technology can replace the driver at the wheel of a car.

In a survey of 1,500 consumers across 10 countries, Cisco found that computers, smartphones, Web sites and embedded in-car communication devices are playing an ever bigger role in the buying of cars, the service process, and the actual driving.

"Consumers demonstrated in the survey how information and technology are crucial throughout the car experience," Cisco said in a press release.

The networking and IT group found that 47 pc of global car buyers attach significant value to a brand's reputation for adopting technology. When preparing to buy a car, 83 pc of global customers prefer to do their research online and 61 pc use the car manufacturer's Web sites.

In the area of maintenance, the survey revealed a heavy focus on the price of gasoline with 62 pc saying they would buy a device that would let them track gasoline and car maintenance costs.

Against a backdrop of growing industry interest in insurance telematics and other data-driven programs, Cisco asked car drivers whether they were willing to share data to get lower insurance rates. Of those polled, 74 pc answered positively, if it would lead to lower insurance or service maintenance costs. Sixty-five pc said they would be willing to share personal information such as height or weightif it would create a more customized vehicle and driving experience.

A 57 pc majority of consumers polled in the study said they would be happy to ride in a car controlled entirely by technology. Brazilian, Indian and Chinese drivers were most trusting of driverless cars, with 96 pc, 86 pc and 70 pc, respectively, expressing their confidence in the technology.

Cisco said the survey results reflect a trend to be connected at all times, including in the car. Said Andreas Mai, director of product marketing for Cisco's Conhected Industries Group: "The consumer survey confirms that it is time to take the internet to the road and into our cars."