Owners Underwhelmed With Automaker Apps For Gas-Powered Vehicles

While remote control function speeds and accuracy are improving on mobile apps for vehicles with gas-powered engines, many apps still do not execute the desired task in a reasonable amount of time, according to a recent study.

That's the J.D. Power 2022 U.S. Original Equipment Manufacturer Internal Combustion Engine App Benchmark Study, which found that many apps fall short of owners’ desire to complete a task in 10 seconds or less.

Overall satisfaction is 699 (on a 1,000-point scale), which highlights manufacturers’ need for continued focus on app content, transparency, accuracy and software stability. No single OEM app is the top performer in all of these key areas.

Among the 32 brands in the study, the top-performing mobile apps are from Mercedes, General Motors, Subaru and Infiniti. Each of these top-performing apps execute well in each of the 12 categories analyzed in the study. However, none of these top-performing apps rank best in class for more than half of the categories reviewed.



J.D. Power continues to work with manufacturers to improve the user experience with their brand’s app. The OEM smartphone app continues to be problematic, as evidenced in the J.D. Power 2022 U.S. Initial Quality Study, as owners find the mobile app to be the second-most problematic feature on their vehicles. 

Issues with connectivity and incorrect information are plaguing apps and creating dissatisfaction for users, which causes many owners to abandon their brand’s app.

Many automotive apps still lack basic functionality, says Jason Norton, senior manager of global automotive consulting at J.D. Power.

“For example, while an app may provide users the ability to lock or unlock their vehicle remotely, the app fails to provide information on if their vehicle is locked or unlocked,” Norton says in a release. “The lack of current vehicle status creates an unknown for users and hinders the overall usefulness of the app.”

There is disparity between apps for gas-powered and electric vehicles, the study notes. Only 16% of automaker apps for gas-powered vehicles provide Phone as a Key technology, falling well short of the 40% provided by electric vehicle apps. 

Nearly 60% of respondents said they are still unwilling to pay for an automaker-branded app, a stat that remains unchanged from 2021. Among those who are willing to pay for an OEM-branded app, 27% said they would not pay more than $5 per month.

The study, fielded in October, surveyed more than 1,000 new vehicle owners who said they had used their vehicles’ app. Results are based on a standardized evaluation approach relying on more than 270 best practices for vehicle apps.

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