Dealers play a vital role in whether car buyers use the latest in-vehicle technology, even if the customers know it’s in their new purchases.
So says Kristin Kolodge, J.D. Power’s director-driver interaction and HMI research. The firm today released results of its first Tech Experience Index Study that measures owners’ use and interaction with driver-centric technology within 90 days of purchase.
“The dealer plays a critical role in whether or not a technology is used,” Kolodge says. “When the dealer takes the time to explain the technology or provide a demonstration, it not only makes the owner aware they have the technology, but also helps them understand how to use it, which means they are more likely to use it, continue to use it and, because they see the value, want it in their next vehicle.”
Overall satisfaction is 25-54 points higher among owners who learn how to operate the technologies from their dealer.
Satisfaction takes a hit when owners say technologies are difficult to use, dropping an average 98 points on the index.
Among owners who say they never use a specific technology, 39% indicate they bring another device into their vehicle to replace certain technologies the vehicle offers. Of those who bring in another device, navigation is the feature most often used.
Even though it may operate as intended, when a technology is difficult for an owner to use or understand, it is likely to be considered as a quality issue, says J.D. Power.
For example, owners who learn how to use their navigation system from the dealer report two fewer problems per 100 vehicles compared with people who do not get a dealer explanation.
“By taking the time to show the technology to the new owner, the dealer can mitigate difficult-to-use issues, improving both satisfaction and quality (perception),” Kolodge says. “The navigation system is just one area. If the dealer explains all or many of the technologies to the new owner, it can have a dramatic positive effect on the ownership experience.”
The major technology categories analyzed in the study include collision protection; comfort and convenience; driving assistance; entertainment and connectivity; navigation; and smartphone mirroring.
“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,” Kolodge says.
Collison avoidance technologies – such as blind-spot warning and detection, lane-keeping/centering and back-up camera/warning systems – collectively have the highest overall satisfaction among the five groups of technologies included in the study index scores, with a score of 754 on a 1,000-point scale.
In contrast, owners are least satisfied with their navigation systems (687).
The study, based on a survey of nearly 18,000 vehicle owners, also ranked vehicles for overall customer experience with the on-board technologies.
Vehicles that scored highest in their segment are the BMW 2-Series (small premium), BMW 4-Series (compact premium segment), Hyundai Genesis (midsize premium segment), Hyundai Tucson (small CUV). Chevrolet Camaro (midsize car), Kia Forte (compact car) and Nissan Maxima (large sedan).