Automakers Adding High-Tech Features Consumers Often Do Not Want

Millennials prove surprisingly tech-resistant.

by on Aug.26, 2015

Even Millennials seem to find little appeal in such high-tech features such as the new Apple CarPlay.

Virtually every Chevy that will roll off the assembly line next year will feature a built-in 4G LTE connectivity that can provide anyone in the car access to a mobile WiFi hotspot. General Motors’ OnStar unit, meanwhile, offers many of its customers access to a mobile concierge service – as do a number of competitors.

But a surprising number of owners don’t bother to use either of those features – which are among the most underutilized among a raft of high technology features and services automakers are building into their latest vehicles, according to a new study by J.D. Power and Associates.

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The 2015 Drive Report finds that 20% of recent new car buyers have not yet used half of the high-tech additions to their vehicles during the first three months of ownership.

But what may be the biggest surprise in the Drive Report is that supposedly tech-centric Millennials are proving particularly slow to embrace all the new features supposedly designed to attract them to today’s newest, highest-tech vehicles.

“In-vehicle connectivity technology that’s not used results in millions of dollars of lost value for both consumers and the manufacturers,” said Power Executive Director Kristin Kolodge.

(Consumers are growing increasingly frustrated by the surge in safety recalls. Click Here for the story.)

While some features simply are lost on technical luddites who’d be happy with the sort of low-tech cars they used to buy, even more tech-savvy owners aren’t necessarily plugging in and turning on, it seems.

The study raises questions about whether motorists really want more autonomous technologies, such as the ability for a vehicle to park itself.

“In many cases,” explained Kolodge, “owners simply prefer to use their smartphone or tablet because it meets their needs; they’re familiar with the device and it’s accurate.”

Surprisingly, that proves to be the case among supposedly tech-happy Gen-Y motorists. Those between the ages of 21 to 38, the Drive Report reveals, are highly likely to rely on their smartphones or tablets to connect.

In fact, at least 20% of Gen-Y buyers pointed to 23 of the various technologies listed in the new study as features they don’t really want. Among all owners, the list of rejected technologies was 14. That includes not only concierge services but such supposedly hot new additions as voice texting and Apple CarPlay Google Android Auto.

The study shows that 43% of motorists with access to concierge services – which can assist in such things as locating a gas station or restaurant – don’t use that feature. And 38% of those with routers built into their vehicles either don’t use mobile WiFi or prefer to connect via tablets and smartphones. Roughly a third of those surveyed don’t use their head-up display systems or pair smartphone apps to the vehicle’s infotainment system.

Automatic parking is another widely neglected technology, unused by 35% of the motorists whose vehicles offer that feature. Whether that’s because motorists don’t realize what they have, don’t know how to use the system or simply find it more cumbersome than parking the old fashioned way isn’t clear.

But with automakers around the world racing to add ever more autonomous driving features to their vehicles, it raises serious questions about how such technology will be accepted.

In many ways, the Drive Report echoes the results of other recent studies by Power and other industry observers. Power’s latest APEAL study, released last month, showed motorists most pleased by high-tech safety systems – such as Blind Spot Warning — and most dissatisfied with their navigation and other infotainment technologies.

(Click Here for more on the latest JD Power APEAL study.)

Yet another Power report, the 2015 Initial Quality Study, found that high-tech systems – particularly infotainment technology – have become the single largest source of “problems” with new vehicles, far more than with mechanical technologies, such as the balky transmissions and leaky sunroofs that used to be the primary source of complaints.

The onus is on manufacturers to design better, easier-to-use technologies, according to Kolodge. Dealers, meanwhile, need to do a  better job explaining to buyers what features they have in their new vehicles and show the customer how to use them.

Power surveyed more than 4,200 motorists who purchased their vehicles between April and June of this year.

(Auto quality problems on the rise, finds Power IQS. Click Here to see how electronics catch the blame.)

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10 Responses to “Automakers Adding High-Tech Features Consumers Often Do Not Want”

  1. Dave says:

    All I want is a radio, heater, and cruise control.

    • Gene says:

      All I want is a Sirius/XM radio (or Pandora), Climate Control and Cruise Control… and a stick shift.

  2. veh says:

    True, though, of things other than cars. The high end house with a fridge that can email you when you’re out of milk (and a Jenn Air stove that’s never been used), forty apps on your phone that just sit there, 8 of the 10 speeds on your bike that you never use, those buttons on your microwave that you can still read because you never touch them…

  3. Rod Cirew says:

    You know what might sell? An oven that cooked a turkey properly and updated you on progress so you could have all the sides ready. That apparently is beyond the mind of man, as are decent windshield wipers. Zero progress since 1932.

    But lane warning bleepers, forward collision warnings that tell you to BRAKE in stop and go traffic when you’re already doing it, NAV systems that only “respond” to voice commands on the move, yet are housed in infotainment systems that rely on touch screens while the car is bouncing down the road, are allowed. Logic? None.

    These systems are inconvenient from beginning to end and unintuitive. Some radical thinking is required for them to be useful. Just because you can do something, sort of, does not mean you should. Hence the untouched buttons on microwaves mentioned above. These aren’t features, they are hindrances.

    And who pays for the data usage on those LTE Chevy cars and trucks anyway? Forget streaming movies to keep the kids quiet. What a mess these electronified cars are!

  4. Jorge says:

    Many of the so called electronic features on newer cars are essentially toys and or zero value to many people. Driver distractions are guaranteed to increase accidents, injuries and fatalities even with the better safety equipment being employed. This is precisely why consumers should not be forced to pay for hand’s free driving and other technologies if they don’t desire them.

  5. Robert Little says:

    …and how about 4 wheel steering (a truly ridiculous offering) by Honda a few years ago. Now a text messaging option for your dashboard?

    • Jorge says:

      Robert – Four wheel steer actually has a place for better vehicular handling. Having it just to park however may be a stretch.

  6. Fred says:

    I do wish I had adaptive cruise available on my new Passat, but I can’t imagine needing it to park itself or ask about gas stations or restaurants, or give me wi-fi I would have to pay for each month and use on two days a year. I never even activated the trial of the “on-star” type feature since it’s only unique feature would be accident reporting and it’s not free. I didn’t even ask for navigation since it cost 2000% more than my TomTom and doesn’t work half as well.
    If you don’t know how to park, or where you’re going, and you can’t see well enough to spot gas stations, and you’re so afraid of your driving that you’ll pay $20/mo. to have your car be ready to call the EMTs by itself, maybe you should stay home – as a bonus you already have wi-fi there, I’ll bet.

    • Jorge says:

      Fred – STOP being so logical. You give a few drivers a good name. LOL

      The OEM Nav prices particularly by Euro car makers is insulting and offensive IMO. TomTom’s auto Navs are pretty good but they suffer from software interface hassles and download speed issues that could be resolved if TT actually cared.

  7. Ray Loscalzo says:

    Power survey finds that many consumers don t want many of the technology systems that have been added to vehicles. Automakers are investing billions in new technology and features, half of which are not being used by most vehicle owners, according to a J.D.

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