High-tech vehicle systems get short shrift by many drivers

Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto are among the features owners said they don't want, according to JD Power


Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto are two features owners said they don't want in their next vehicle

Credit: Creative Commons Lic.

Although automakers are spending billions of dollars to put cutting-edge technologies in vehicles, a new report shows many owners don't use them.

According to J.D. Power's 2015 Driver Interactive Vehicle Experience (DrIVE) Report, 20% of new-vehicle owners have never used 16 of 33 of the latest technology features.

The 2015 DrIVE Report measures driver experiences with in-vehicle technology features during the first 90 days of ownership.

The five features owners most commonly report that they "never use" are in-vehicle concierge (43%); mobile routers (38%); automatic parking systems (35%); heads-up display (33%); and built-in apps (32%).

Additionally, there are 14 technology features that 20% or more of owners don't even  want in their next vehicle. Those features include Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto, in-vehicle concierge services and in-vehicle voice texting. When narrowed to just Gen Yers, the number of vehicle owners who don't want entertainment and connectivity systems increases to 23%.

"In many cases, owners simply prefer to use their smartphone or tablet because it meets their needs; they're familiar with the device and it's accurate," said Kristin Kolodge, executive director of driver interaction and human-machine interface (HMI) research at J.D. Power. "In-vehicle connectivity technology that's not used results in millions of dollars of lost value for both consumers and the manufacturers."

lexus navigation advanced parking system

This is the advanced parking system on new Lexus vehicles. Drivers surveyed by J.D. Power said they didn't use parking assist systems.

About the technology now offered in new cars, vehicle owners said they simply "did not find it useful," adding that it "came as part of a package on my current vehicle and I did not want it."

Vehicle owners who said their dealer did not explain a tech feature also had a higher likelihood of never using it, the survey found.

J.D. Power built its report on responses from more than 4,200 vehicle owners and lessees after 90 days of ownership. The report was conducted between April and June 2015.

Those surveyed said the technology they most often do want are those that enhance  driving and safety, which are only available as a built-in features. The in-vehicle technologies most owners want include vehicle health diagnostics, blind-spot warning and detection, and adaptive cruise control.

"The first 30 days are critical. That first-time experience with the technology is the make-it-or-break-it stage," said Kolodge. "Automakers need to get it right the first time, or owners will simply use their own mobile device instead of the in-vehicle technology."

Drivers' decisions to ignore the technology in their vehicles has implications beyond the auto industry.

For example, insurance firms are closely tracking automotive technology for safety and financial reasons. Insurers are concerned that difficult-to-use technology may distract drivers and cause an accident. Using smartphones instead of in-vehicle technology also creates safety issues. Additionally, in-vehicle technology can significantly increase claims costs for vehicles damaged in an accident.

"While some technologies, such as lane-departure warning, are making vehicles safer, the insurance industry is very concerned about the driver-distraction hazards caused by some of the other technologies," Chip Lackey, senior director of the insurance practice at J.D. Power, said in a statement. "In addition, technology drives up the repair and replacement costs. A slight bumper scrape that would normally cost a few hundred dollars to repair can catapult a claim into thousands of dollars when a park assist camera or other sensors are damaged."

This story, "High-tech vehicle systems get short shrift by many drivers" was originally published by Computerworld.