By Kirsten Korosec
February 9, 2018

Americans are obsessed with outfitting their cars for their pets, Germans seem fixated with digital radio, and the Japanese want to the bring the comforts of their living rooms into their vehicles, according to Google’s 2018 Auto Trends Report that was released Friday.

Google pulled top-volume queries related to the automotive sector in Google Search and YouTube, and surveyed more than 1,000 consumers to identify the top auto trends in the U.S., Germany, and Japan. And while consumers in Germany and Japan also searched for pet-related vehicle equipment and accessories, Americans took it to a whole new level.

The Google Auto Trends report found the average American was 36 times as likely to search for pet-related items like a dog car seat and dog hammocks than the average person in Germany, and 10 times more likely than the average person in Japan.

Google also pinpointed terms that show steady growth over the past few years, seasonal trends that are likely to come back even stronger, and terms with sudden growth within the past few months. The search engine also identified declining terms.

In the U.S., the search queries “backup camera” and “dog car seat” were top seasonal trends, while “HD mirror cam” and “dash camera” search terms have seen the sharpest rise in recent months. Meanwhile, “bluetooth car stereo,” is on a sustained decline. The term “car radio” is showing a seasonal decline, and “fuzzy steering wheel” is falling at the fastest clip, the report found.

But across all three markets, one trend persisted: consumers are searching for information about how to bring on-board cameras into their vehicles. Search volume for on-board cameras is three times as large as search volume for autonomous driving, according to the report.

Many cars already feature back-up cameras, but car shoppers are looking for different types of cameras to meet other needs as they prioritize safety and security, Google said in its report. Consumers were also interested in small, sleeker on-board cameras as well as ones that record more than just a single angle. Consumers seem to want everything inside and outside of their vehicles captured.

“This creates an opportunity for camera and accessory marketers, but the auto industry should also be thinking about how to integrate new styles of on-board cameras directly into vehicle design,” the report says.

Companies like Owl, which was founded by Apple iPhone, Microsoft Hololens, and Dropcam product veterans, are well poised to take advantage of this new trend. Owl recently came out of stealth with its Owl Car Cam product—an LTE-connected security camera for the car designed to capture crashes, break-ins, dents, and traffic stops, as well as the weird or fun moments that happen while driving.

Startup Raven, which has developed a dashcam and mobile app that has 24/7 security functions as well as navigation and traffic updates, plans to widely release its product in late March.

Google found that the most sustained growth related to on-board camera interest is coming from Japan, with 23% year-over-year growth. Interest in the U.S. and Germany are also rising. In the U.S., interest in on-board cameras grew 35% in just the last three months.

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