Virtually every Chevy that will roll off the assembly line next year will feature a built-in 4G LTE connectivity that can provide anyone in the car access to a mobile WiFi hotspot. General Motors’ OnStar unit, meanwhile, offers many of its customers access to a mobile concierge service – as do a number of competitors.
But a surprising number of owners don’t bother to use either of those features – which are among the most underutilized among a raft of high technology features and services automakers are building into their latest vehicles, according to a new study by J.D. Power and Associates.
The 2015 Drive Report finds that 20% of recent new car buyers have not yet used half of the high-tech additions to their vehicles during the first three months of ownership.
But what may be the biggest surprise in the Drive Report is that supposedly tech-centric Millennials are proving particularly slow to embrace all the new features supposedly designed to attract them to today’s newest, highest-tech vehicles.
“In-vehicle connectivity technology that’s not used results in millions of dollars of lost value for both consumers and the manufacturers,” said Power Executive Director Kristin Kolodge.
(Consumers are growing increasingly frustrated by the surge in safety recalls. Click Here for the story.)
While some features simply are lost on technical luddites who’d be happy with the sort of low-tech cars they used to buy, even more tech-savvy owners aren’t necessarily plugging in and turning on, it seems.
“In many cases,” explained Kolodge, “owners simply prefer to use their smartphone or tablet because it meets their needs; they’re familiar with the device and it’s accurate.”
Surprisingly, that proves to be the case among supposedly tech-happy Gen-Y motorists. Those between the ages of 21 to 38, the Drive Report reveals, are highly likely to rely on their smartphones or tablets to connect.
In fact, at least 20% of Gen-Y buyers pointed to 23 of the various technologies listed in the new study as features they don’t really want. Among all owners, the list of rejected technologies was 14. That includes not only concierge services but such supposedly hot new additions as voice texting and Apple CarPlay Google Android Auto.
The study shows that 43% of motorists with access to concierge services – which can assist in such things as locating a gas station or restaurant – don’t use that feature. And 38% of those with routers built into their vehicles either don’t use mobile WiFi or prefer to connect via tablets and smartphones. Roughly a third of those surveyed don’t use their head-up display systems or pair smartphone apps to the vehicle’s infotainment system.
Automatic parking is another widely neglected technology, unused by 35% of the motorists whose vehicles offer that feature. Whether that’s because motorists don’t realize what they have, don’t know how to use the system or simply find it more cumbersome than parking the old fashioned way isn’t clear.
But with automakers around the world racing to add ever more autonomous driving features to their vehicles, it raises serious questions about how such technology will be accepted.
In many ways, the Drive Report echoes the results of other recent studies by Power and other industry observers. Power’s latest APEAL study, released last month, showed motorists most pleased by high-tech safety systems – such as Blind Spot Warning — and most dissatisfied with their navigation and other infotainment technologies.
(Click Here for more on the latest JD Power APEAL study.)
Yet another Power report, the 2015 Initial Quality Study, found that high-tech systems – particularly infotainment technology – have become the single largest source of “problems” with new vehicles, far more than with mechanical technologies, such as the balky transmissions and leaky sunroofs that used to be the primary source of complaints.
The onus is on manufacturers to design better, easier-to-use technologies, according to Kolodge. Dealers, meanwhile, need to do a better job explaining to buyers what features they have in their new vehicles and show the customer how to use them.
Power surveyed more than 4,200 motorists who purchased their vehicles between April and June of this year.
(Auto quality problems on the rise, finds Power IQS. Click Here to see how electronics catch the blame.)