J.D. Power Finds Consumers Diss Car Tech

Automakers have poured lots of money into vehicle technologies like WiFi connectivity, music and navigation apps, and semi-autonomous driving functionality. When it comes to consumer adoption of those features, maybe the glass isn’t full. 

A new study from J.D. Power suggests that perhaps a lot of people really don’t need park assist, aren’t using their cars as hotspots, and don't require fighter-pilot technology to see their speed and fuel levels projected on the windshield. 

The new J.D. Power 2015 Driver Interactive Vehicle Experience (DrIVE) Report, which measures driver experiences with in-vehicle technology during the first 90 days of ownership, finds that at least 20% of new-vehicle owners have never used 16 of the 33 technology features. Forty-three percent of respondents said they never use in-vehicle concierge; 38% said they never use mobile routers; 35% said they don’t use automatic parking systems; 33% said they don’t use heads-up display; and 32% said they don't ever use built-in apps.



The report says there are 14 features that 20% or more of owners do not want in their next vehicle at all, including Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto; in-vehicle concierge services like GM’s OnStar; and in-vehicle voice texting.  

Renee Stephens, VP of auto quality at J.D. Power, tells Marketing Daily that for a lot of consumers, new technology is a plate of green eggs and ham. “They wouldn’t consider it in their current car, and they don’t want it in their vehicle tomorrow.” And the study says owners who reported their dealer did not explain the feature have a higher likelihood of never using the technology to begin with. Furthermore, features that are not activated when the vehicle is delivered often result in the owner not even knowing they have the technology in their new vehicle.

Stephens says that, for this reason, automakers and dealers need to be proactive in booting up these features  before the vehicle is delivered. “The fact is, if I don't use it in the first 30 days, I may not use it at all,” she says. 

Counterintuitively, the numbers do not get better as consumers get younger. Among Gen Y, the number of features unwanted by at least 20% of owners increases to 23, with entertainment and connectivity features the least enticing to younger consumers. Says Stephens, “Gen Y consumers look at what capability they have on their phones and tablets, and they just want to be able to plug that in. So satisfaction rates with vehicles that have plug-and-play functionality had higher satisfaction than those where you have to use in-vehicle capability for navigation, apps and even voice recognition.”

The technologies owners most often want are safety and driving experience features like blind-spot warning and adaptive cruise control, and vehicle health diagnostics technology, per the study.

4 comments about "J.D. Power Finds Consumers Diss Car Tech ".
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  1. Diane Aull from, August 26, 2015 at 10:47 a.m.

    OK, so let me get this straight. A significant number owners have said "They wouldn’t consider [these features] in their current car, and they don’t want [them] in their vehicle tomorrow," and the "solution" is to proactively enable the unwanted features. Seriously?

    Why not -- oh, I don't know -- try something radical like listening to consumer preferences? You know, the kind of thing that good marketers are supposed to do. I'm just saying.

  2. Mai Kok from So What, August 26, 2015 at 1:45 p.m.

    "Renee Stephens, VP of auto quality at J.D. Power," is clearly a monkey and retarded.

    Instead of the afformentioned advice, maybe she should be telling carmakers to listen to consumers. Clearly, carmakers add all these junk to pad the price of their goddamned cars. But instead of bulking up margins, they should focus on keeping their prices and sales funnels lean. You know, stop with the channel stuffing and price padding. Cars are NOT a home away from home and people don't want to pay prices for a home away from home either. Cars are cars - and homes are homes; and HOMES away from HOMES are just that - HOMES. 

    I'm looking at you GM with your load of crap cars, inflated prices, channel stuffing, and slashing prices to cut down your inventory build up through your channel stuffing. pathetic.

  3. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, August 26, 2015 at 2:37 p.m.

    Some of the car makers put fancy technology into their mid-price option packages and then withhold such necessities as a rear-camera for their higher-price option packages. I'm still irritated my Ford Escort has useless voice commands but no rear camera because I didn't spring for the Titanium package.

  4. James Smith from J. R. Smith Group, August 26, 2015 at 10:51 p.m.

    This car-tech situation shouldn't be shocking.  These are product-centric rather than consumer-centric situations, particularly with most auto and tech device companies. Wouldn't you agree that in such cases one suspects the companies are more driven by their engineering and manufacturing efficiency divisions than their customer/prospect analysis? I'm not suggesting these folks don't look at consumer research data, they just might need new glasses.  Feature bundling strategies often work, just enough, to reinforce the wisdom of their choices.  Imagine the impact if they really nailed it from the consumer view.

    And Doug, your not alone.  I wanted fog lights on my last newer car but the manufacturer bundle forced those into the "sport" package...which had a batch of things I didn't want or need.  We are far from alone as noted by the Power's study.

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