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Consumers shun connected cars, says JD Power report

Automotive market research specialist JD Power warns that car manufacturers are wasting money on connected car technologies that most people don’t use

Connected cars are well on the way to becoming ubiquitous, but a great deal of consumers are not bothering to take advantage of the technology, according to a report.

Automotive market research firm JD Power, which in years gone by produced a major annual report on the British car market for the BBC’s Top Gear programme, said that carmakers were wasting millions of dollars on technology that was failing to create value for consumers.

In its 2015 Driver Interactive Vehicle Experience (Drive) Report, JD Power measured driver experiences with connected car technology during the first 90 days of ownership, and revealed that services such as in-vehicle concierge services, mobile routers, automatic parking assistance systems, heads-up displays and built-in-apps all proved particularly unpopular, with more than 20% of consumers saying they were never used.

Furthermore, JD Power said that many consumers did not even want certain technology features in their next vehicle, including Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto, with millennial buyers even more turned off.

The technologies that were used all tended towards those that enhanced the driver’s experience or safety in some way – consumers especially liked blind-spot warning features, vehicle health diagnostics and adaptive cruise control.

“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 JD Power executive director of driver interaction and human machine interface research, Kristin Kolodge.

“In-vehicle connectivity technology that’s not used results in millions of dollars of lost value for both consumers and manufacturers,” she said.

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Asked why they did not want a specific technology feature in their next car, the most frequently cited reason from drivers was that they did not find it useful on their current vehicle. They also said that many dealers did not explain or help activate connected car features to them at the point of sale, which left them more prone to being ignored.

Kolodge said that dealers had a crucial role to play in helping customers get to grips with the growing array of features contained in their vehicles, with the onus on the car industry itself to design connected car technology to be more intuitive and to adequately demonstrate it to their dealer networks.

The report also contained implications for car insurance companies, which are becoming more concerned that difficult-to-use technology may distract drivers and increase accident rates.

Additionally, said JD Power, in-vehicle technology can increase claims costs for cars damaged in an accident: the costs of repairing a scratched bumper, for example, would increase substantially if any sensors were damaged in the prang.

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