Drivers are shunning much of the technology automakers are stuffing into cars.
It amounts to a waste of billions of dollars in investment that’s ultimately paid for by consumers, according to automotive research firm J.D. Power.
In its 2015 Driver Interactive Vehicle Experience Report — a study of how new car owners use their vehicles within the first 90 days after a purchase — J.D. Power found that at least 20 percent never used 16 of the 33 technology features measured.
For example, 43 percent ignored the voice link to a human concierge for directions or restaurant reservations. Another 38 percent never took advantage of a car’s ability to use a wireless link to create an Internet hot spot; 35 percent never tried the automatic parking system.
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One-third didn’t use a heads-up display, which projects speed and other information onto the windshield, and 32 percent ignored apps embedded in the infotainment system such as Yelp or Pandora.
More than half expressed reluctance to use a vehicle’s voice texting and voice recognition systems.
“In many cases, owners simply prefer to use their smartphone or tablet because it meets their needs; they’re familiar with the device and it’s accurate,” said Kristin Kolodge, executive director of driver interaction research at J.D. Power. “In-vehicle connectivity technology that’s not used results in millions of dollars of lost value for both consumers and the manufacturers.”
Kolodge said the industry expects to sell about 14 million vehicles to consumers this year — and roughly another 3 million will go to government and commercial users not included in the study. Considering only the retail sales, at least 2.8 million consumers are paying for technology they are not using.
Drivers also would like to dump some of this technology when they next buy a car, the study found.
The most frequently cited reasons for not wanting a specific technology feature in their next purchase are because they “did not find it useful” in their current vehicle and the technology “came as part of a package on my current vehicle and I did not want it.”
Moreover, new car owners who said their dealer did not explain the feature have a higher likelihood of never using the technology. In some instances, the buyers didn’t even know they had the technology in their new vehicle.
J.D. Power surveyed 4,200 vehicle owners and lessees after 90 days of ownership from April through June.
Kolodge noted that the technologies owners most often want are those that enhance the driving experience and safety, which are only available as a built-in feature rather than through an external device. That included features such as vehicle health diagnostics, blind-spot warning and detection, and adaptive cruise control.
Automakers said they were giving consumers what they wanted, adding that more technology, rather than less, is on the way.
Much of the technology will connect the car to other cars and networks, and some of it will be high-level driver assistance technologies such as forward collision warnings.