There was a time when, a car that was “fully-loaded” came with seat belts and let you listen to both AM and FM radio. As anyone who has been in a new car recently can attest, that is no longer the case.
The so-called ‘bells and whistles’ that now populate even base-model vehicles play such a crucial role in owners’ satisfaction with their vehicle that industry customer-satisfaction mainstays, like JD Power’s Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS), are dominated by complaints regarding audio, communication, entertainment and navigation.
20% of consumer complaints from the 2016 VDS involved in-car entertainment, navigation, and communication, which means that a clunky touch screen can now hurt a manufacturers reputation for quality in the same way a clunky engine could. So if in-car technology is important to consumers, why isn’t there an In-Car Technology study?
Thanks to the good folks at JD Power, there now is! Well, technically it’s the Tech Experience Index (TXI,) which aims to measure “a vehicle owner’s experiences, usage and interaction with driver-centric vehicle technology at 90 days of ownership.” This study covers “collision protection; comfort and convenience; driving assistance; entertainment and connectivity; navigation; and smartphone mirroring,” among other factors.
Kristin Kolodge, executive director of driver interaction & HMI research at J.D. Power, laid out the issues at the heart of the first year of this study:
“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. 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.”
The one aspect of in-car technology that consumers love more-or-less across the board are safety features like back-up cameras and blind-spot alerts. These features seem to hit the sweet-spot of in-car tech: they solve problems that many drivers have, and they are designed to be easy to use.
We’re excited to hear what year 2 of this study reveals, and curious to find out whether the introduction of the TXI means infotainment will be excluded from future VDS studies. We’re also looking forward to stepping our game up; the TXI showed that dealerships play a large role in customers’ happiness with their in-car technology, and we’re working to make sure that our customers have their phones paired and their sound systems calibrated!