Connected car broken down? Consumers ignore much of automotive technology

Drivers avoid much of the technology that automakers put into cars.

This amounts to a waste of billions of dollars in investment that is ultimately paid for by consumers, according to automotive research firm JD Power.

In its 2015 Driver Interactive Vehicle Experience report – a study of how new car owners use their vehicles within 90 days of purchase – JD power found that at least 20% had never used 16 of 33 technological characteristics measured.

For example, 43% ignored the voice link to a human concierge for directions or restaurant reservations. Another 38% have never taken advantage of a car’s ability to use a wireless link to create an Internet hotspot, while 35% have never tried the automatic parking system.

A third didn’t use a heads-up display that projects speed and other information on the windshield, and 32% ignored apps built into the infotainment system like Yelp or Pandora.

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More than half expressed reluctance to use a vehicle’s voicemail and voice recognition systems.

“In many cases, homeowners just prefer to use their smartphone or tablet because it meets their needs; they know the device well and it’s accurate, ”said Kristin Kolodge, executive director of driver interaction research at JD Power. “Unused in-vehicle connectivity technology is costing millions of dollars in value for consumers and manufacturers alike. “

Kolodge noted that the industry expects to sell around 14 million vehicles to consumers this year – and an additional 3 million will go to government and commercial users not included in the study. Looking at retail sales alone, at least 2.8 million consumers pay for technology they don’t use.

According to the study, consumers would like to get rid of some of this technology the next time they buy a car.

The most frequently cited reasons for not wanting a specific tech feature in their next purchase are that they “didn’t find it useful” in their current vehicle and the technology “was part of a package on my current vehicle and I didn’t want it. . “

Additionally, new car owners who said their dealership did not explain the feature have a higher likelihood of never using the technology. In some cases, buyers weren’t even aware they had the technology in their new vehicle.

JD Power surveyed 4,200 vehicle owners and renters after 90 days of possession from April to June this year.

Kolodge noted that the technologies owners look for most often are those that enhance the driving experience and safety, which are only available as a built-in function rather than through an external device. This included features like vehicle health diagnostics, blind spot warning and detection, and adaptive cruise control.

Automakers have said they are giving consumers what they want, adding that more technology, rather than less, is on the way.

“Consumers are looking for innovative ways to integrate their digital lives into their vehicles and their vehicles into their digital lives,” said Klaus-Peter Martin, spokesperson for General Motors.

“Over the next few years, consumers are going to get a new technology fire hose that they have never seen before,” said John Hanson, Toyota spokesperson.

Much of the technology will connect the car to other cars and networks and some of it will be high-level driver assistance technologies such as forward collision warnings that trigger automatic braking, he said. -he declares.

Toyota plans to offer safety package options for almost all Toyota and Lexus vehicles sold in the United States by the end of 2016. Packages will sell for between $ 300 and $ 500 for Toyota and between $ 500. and $ 635 for Lexus models.

“People are starting to demand technology if they see a real safety benefit in it,” Hanson said. “It’s going to escalate faster than ever over the next few years as we see higher levels of automated driver assistance develop.”

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