J.D. Power Study Finds New Car Owners Disable High-Tech Features

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【Summary】Automakers may be pouring millions into coming out with new driver-assist features, but J.D. Power’s latest study reveals that consumers aren’t crazy about the technology.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    Oct 07, 2019 8:00 AM PT
J.D. Power Study Finds New Car Owners Disable High-Tech Features

New technology is sweeping through the automotive industry. Everything from affordable city cars to massive full-size pickup trucks now come with more tech than ever. One specific area where automakers are really focusing on is when it comes to automotive safety. Automakers like Honda, Toyota, and Ford are offering extensive suites of safety tech that are standard on a lot of vehicles. Unfortunately, a new J.D. Power study found that a lot of consumers actually turn the features off and may even try to avoid them in a future purchase.

Collision Protection Technology Is Appreciated
The J.D. Power 2019 U.S. Tech Experience Index (TXI) Study, found a large reason for automakers to be concerned with the introduction of more advanced safety features. The study measures owners' experiences, interactions, and usages with 38-centric vehicle technologies at the 90-day mark of car ownership. Over 20,000 owners and lessees were surveyed for the study, with the questionnaire taking place from February through July 2019.
Out of all the current technology features on vehicles, collision protection ranked highest in owner satisfaction across the six categories that J.D. Power measured. Smartphone mirroring came in second, while comfort and convenience rounded out the top three. Entertainment and connectivity, driving assistance, and navigation came in fourth, fifth, and sixth, respectively.
One of the more polarizing pieces of technology that consumers considered to be irksome was lane-keeping assist . Using cameras and sensors, lane-keeping assist scans the road for well-defined lines and attempts to keep the vehicle between them by automatically steering the vehicle, providing feedback to the driver, and other methods. While helpful, J.D. Power's survey found that a lot of owners weren't crazy about how it worked.
On average, 23 percent of consumers claimed that lane-keeping assist systems were annoying. For respondents that felt that way, 61 percent stated that they disabled the system. Only 21 percent of owners stated that the system isn't bothersome.

Not All Features Are Made Equally
The study, though, points toward a large discrepancy between automakers. "Some brands are succeeding at making their safety technology effective without being overbearing," said Kristin Kolodge, Executive Director of Driver Interaction & Human Machine Interface Research at J.D. Power. "Some are good at one aspect but weaker at another, and some are struggling with both. This is why one brand has 90 percent of its customers wanting lane-keeping/centering on their next vehicle, while another brand has just 59 percent of its customers saying the same thing."
Another interesting thing the study found was that built-in applications aren't performing up to consumers' standards. Roughly 29 percent of owners stated they stopped using their vehicle's built-in apps and 46 percent of those simply claim "they do not need it." Eighteen percent of the 29 percent stated that they "have another device that performs the function better."
Cars that consumers ranked highly include the Hyundai Kona, Toyota C-HR, Kia Forte, Kia Stinger, Chevrolet Blazer, Porsche Cayenne, and Ford Expedition.
The study doesn't bode well for autonomous vehicles. "Consumers are still very concerned about cars being able to drive themselves, and they want more information about these complex systems, as well as more channels to learn how to use them or how and why they kick in," said Kolodge. "If they can't be sold on lane-keeping – a core technology of self-driving – how are they going to accept fully automated vehicles?"
It's a good question that automakers should be asking themselves.

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