BMW, Hyundai Tops In Tech Experience

Just what the auto industry needs, another study, more awards. 

But seriously, without those awards, what would vehicle makers have to brag about at the end of commercials? Heck, Chevy based an entire commercial on all the achievements they have racked up. 

The new kid on the block is the J.D. Power 2016 U.S. Tech Experience Index (TXI) Study, which recognizes BMW and Hyundai as the highest-ranked car brands in overall customer experience with vehicle technology in their respective segments.

The new study takes the same 90-day approach as J.D. Power’s highly sought-after Initial Quality Study awards, but focuses exclusively on technology — collision protection, comfort and convenience, driving assistance, entertainment and connectivity, navigation, and smartphone mirroring.

BMW and Hyundai both hold two “firsts” in the study. BMW’s 2 Series tops the list in the Small Premium segment, while its 4 Series earns top honors in the Compact Premium segment. The Hyundai Genesis is the leader in the Midsize Premium segment, and the Tucson ranks first in the Small segment.

Other models that rank highest in their segment are the Chevrolet Camaro (midsize); Kia Forte (compact); and Nissan Maxima (large). Model-level rankings and awards include 2016 model-year vehicles that were all-new or redesigned within the past three years.

The study revealed there might be some educational opportunities, perhaps in the form of marketing and advertising.

“For any technology in a vehicle, it’s critical that the owners want it, are aware they have it, and know how to use it,” said Kristin Kolodge, executive director of driver interaction & HMI research at J.D. Power. “It is alarming how many technologies consumers have in their vehicle but aren’t using because they don’t know they have them or don’t know how to use them. Both of these knowledge gaps have long-term implications for future demand.”

Even if owners are aware they have an in-vehicle technology, it doesn’t mean they will use it.

“The dealer plays a critical role in whether or not a technology is used,” Kolodge says. “When the dealer takes the time to explain the technology or provide a demonstration, it not only makes the owner aware they have the technology, but also helps them understand how to use it, which means they are more likely to use it, continue to use it and, because they see the value, want it in their next vehicle.”

The navigation system is one area customers need help in, well, navigating. According to J.D. Power, there's still a lot of room for improvement; navigation systems were the lowest-rated piece of tech in the study. Instead, customers repeatedly gave kudos to  collision-avoidance and safety systems with 96% of respondents said they wanted those two systems in their next vehicle.

“If the dealer explains all or many of the technologies to the new owner, it can have a dramatic positive effect on the ownership experience,” Kolodge says. 

And a positive ownership experience means repeat business. Maybe this is one award automakers ought to pay closer attention to, for that reason alone.

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