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James Bryant

Is Automaker Tech a Flop with Consumers?

by James Bryant | Dun & Bradstreet Editor

September 2, 2015 | No Comments »

Apple CarPlay dashboard screenFor years carmakers have played catch-up with consumers’ seemingly insatiable appetite for all things tech. Billions have been spent to leverage technology to enhance infotainment systems and safety features. But many of the technologies automakers have spent so much time and treasure to develop have inspired a collective yawn from consumers.

Much of the tech in today’s cars and trucks goes largely unused, according to the J.D. Power 2015 Driver Interactive Vehicle Experience (DrIVE) Report. The report, which is based on a survey of more than 4,200 vehicle owners and lessees after 90 days of ownership, showed that about 20% of new-vehicle drivers have never bothered to use 16 of the 33 technology features measured by the survey.

The survey showed there are several features that surprising percentages of folks don’t ever use. Nearly 45% of respondents said they never use in-vehicle concierge services, and nearly 40% don’t use mobile routers. Automatic parking systems are ignored by 35%, more than 30% never use head-up displays, and another 30% don’t use built-in apps.

The survey also revealed 14 high-tech offerings that drivers don’t want at all in their next vehicle, including in-vehicle concierge services, in-vehicle texting, Apple CarPlay, and Google Android Auto.

According to the J.D. Power survey, the all-important Millennials are less than enthused by in-vehicle tech. About 20% said there were 23 features they’d just as soon not have in their new vehicle. This is particularly ironic considering the strategy of adding tech features has partly been driven by the effort to attract tech-savvy Millennials, who have proven to be somewhat ambivalent about car ownership compared to preceding generations.

However, increased consumer acceptance and use of in-vehicle technology may be a simple matter of awareness. An “Apps in the Car” survey earlier this year by IHS Automotive showed that among respondents who had heard of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto the level of interest was closer to 90%.

Industry experts claim that the first 90 days of ownership are the key to technology acceptance and adoption. If a new car owner doesn’t learn to use the tech offering in the first three months, the chances of its ever being used fall through the floor.

Industry Impact: Developing in-vehicle technology is too expensive — for both carmakers and drivers — to let it go unused. But consumers can’t use features they don’t know about or haven’t been trained to use. To bridge the awareness gap, automakers are likely to develop tech demo strategies, targeted marketing efforts, and dealership training programs.

James Bryant is an industry editor for Dun & Bradstreet. Based in Austin, Texas, he writes about issues affecting the global manufacturing sector. He’s been the company’s specialist on the auto industry for 15 years.


Image courtesy of Apple.

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