Technology can be a big seller in new cars, but it turns out that many digital features go unused – assuming owners even know their car belongs to them.
why it matters: Hi-tech features are driving up the prices of vehicles. But if consumers don’t use them — or are frustrated because the stuff doesn’t work properly — then both automakers and car buyers are wasting their money.
running news: For more than 1 in 3 advanced technologies, most owners did not even use the facility during the first three months of ownership, a JD Power technology Study met.
- Usually, owners say it’s because they don’t need the feature, but sometimes it’s because they don’t know about it or find it difficult to use.
BMW’s gesture control technology is a great example. This should let you move a finger or wave your hand to perform tasks like adjusting radio volume or answering calls – as opposed to touching a screen or button.
- But for the second year in a row, the tech had the lowest overall satisfaction score in J.D. Power’s annual US Tech Experience Index, with owners reporting 41 problems — that is, complaints — per 100 vehicles.
- My Thought Bubble: I drove a BMW X6 last year that had gesture control as part of the $2,300 premium package. I agree with BMW owners. It was easy to use just the buttons.
Other underlying technologies often go unused, despite large investments by automakers to connect them. some examples:
Digital Marketplace: General Motors was the first company to equip millions of cars with an in-car commerce platform called Market This lets you order food, make restaurant and hotel reservations, and find gas stations from your dashboard.
- But 61% of owners say they never use their car’s digital marketplace, and 51% say they don’t need to.
Driver/Passenger Communication: Honda, Hyundai and Toyota are among carmakers that allow drivers to more easily communicate with those in the back seat via a microphone or camera.
- 52% say they have never used the system, and 40% say they don’t need it. (Who needs a mic when you can just turn around and yell at your kids?)
Between the lines: J.D. Power found that consumers are more likely to use emerging technology if a car dealer does a good job of demonstrating how it works.
- But a lot of car sellers aren’t fully trained to explain all the features of the cars they sell — and often buyers don’t ask, aren’t interested, or can’t make it.
- Some dealers encourage buyers to schedule a follow-up visit to the dealership for a refresher.
- when a buyer does Get a lesson from your dealer on how to use an advanced feature, they tend to use it more, as study finds.
- Examples of these features include “safe exit assist technology” – which warns parked drivers to wait for traffic before opening the door – and trailer assist technology, which helps drivers steer a boat or RV. is, for example.
- Yes, but: The study found that owners are more than twice as likely to learn about this type of technology from an outside source (71%) than from a dealer (30%).
What car owners like: Cameras, cameras and more cameras.
- The top-rated technologies all offer an additional set of eyes: backup cameras with trajectory guidance, visibility-enhancing rear-view mirror cameras, and 360-degree ground view cameras.
- Electric vehicle owners also love one-pedal driving technology – which allows a driver to lift their foot off the accelerator without braking or stopping to slow down.
Bottom-line: In-car technology has to be easy to use – and explained well to the driver ahead of time – or it just isn’t worth the money.