You've seen the opening to Annie Hall, right? Where Woody Allen tells the classic joke about two women grumbling about their dinner? The one complains that the food is terrible, while the other, agreeing, says the portions are too small. That's the automotive infotainment business in a nutshell.
JD Power spells this out in a new analysis of its 2012 APEAL survey. To put it simply, having some infotainment system is better than none, even if the technology occasionally makes you want to push your car into a deep lake.

Power says infotainment, which it calls "audio/entertainment/navigation (AEN) systems" and includes hands-free technology, had the highest average problem count in its 2012 Initial Quality Study. But those owners who had systems of this sort that included hands-free communication were some 12-percent more likely to recommend their vehicles to others. These owners were also "slightly more likely" to repurchase the same vehicle brand, according to Power.

Scroll down to watch the aforementioned clip from the 1978 Academy Award Winner for Best Picture.

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Hands-Free Device Owners More Satisfied Despite Problems

Date Published: 07/31/2012

New-vehicle owners and lessees who have hands-free communication devices in their vehicles are more delighted with their vehicle's audio/entertainment/navigation (AEN) systems than those who do not have hands-free communication devices in their vehicles, according to findings in our 2012 U.S. Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study.

This contrasts with results in our 2012 U.S. Initial Quality Study (IQS), in which the audio/entertainment/navigation (AEN) system category, which includes evaluation of hands-free communication devices, has the highest average problem count among all categories analyzed, and is linked to lower vehicle quality. In fact, the number of problems in this category has grown during the past few years, partly due to a higher number of problems reported for hands-free communication devices.

Yet, in our latest 2012 APEAL Study, we find that owners of vehicles with hands-free communication devices are 12 percentage points more likely than owners of vehicles that not equipped with hands-free devices to indicate they "definitely will" recommend their vehicle brand to a friend, relative or colleague. In addition, these hands-free communication device owners also are slightly more likely to say they "definitely will" repurchase or lease the same vehicle brand.

As penetration of hands-free communication devices and other in-vehicle interactive technologies increases, and as the quality improves, automakers and suppliers will have a major opportunity to raise satisfaction with their AEN systems as well as have a positive impact on vehicle owners' repeat purchase decisions and referrals.


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  • 26 Comments
      Green Machine
      • 2 Years Ago
      Mmm, everyone who disagrees gets voted down. That's odd. I wish manufactures would offer equipment check list again. Likes leather and sunroofs, but I rather just use the blutooth and GPS on my phone instead of some quick rushed auto all in one unit. They should outsource the tech to companies that's all they do, and just stick to building better cars.
      apple4ever@me.com
      • 2 Years Ago
      My girlfriend just bought a Honda CRV. The hand-free tech SUCKS. Its horrible. I want to punch it for how many times I hear "No command was heard." And to top it off, you can do anything while the car is in motion. So while its purported purpose is to keep us safe by paying attention to the road- it does the exact opposite. So we just use our phones instead and bypass their stupid restrictions.
      GasMan
      • 2 Years Ago
      These systems are stupid because they just duplicate what I can already do and already pay for with my smartphone (Nav, music, email, infotainment). Why learn a whole new user interface? When they come up with a phone dock that will just duplicate my phone on the big touchscreen and route my audio through the speakers and provide an external mic I will be happy to pay for them. Go one further and let me download an app for all the car-specific tasks like climate control, trip computer, and local radio. With systems like Siri and the new Android Voice Actions, we already have a better voice control than they are putting into cars anyway. This would solve another problem too. If I keep a car for 5 years, the tech is obsolete whereas I replace my cellphone every 2 years.
      vcarr123
      • 2 Years Ago
      To the auto makers - Keep it simple STUPID!
      Soyntgo4it
      • 2 Years Ago
      Please no one uses all the gadgets sorry features in their vehicles. I laugh at people all the time when they have Bluetooth in their vehicles and still hold their phone to their ears and chat away. Or better yet have Navigation in their vehicles and still ask for directions to a place...
      • 2 Years Ago
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      • 2 Years Ago
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      Drakkon
      • 2 Years Ago
      I would like to know if anyone on this site read a JDPowers survey and made a decision based on it?
        markruck
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Drakkon
        Never. And it only involves initial customer satisfaction, not long term. So, their survey is useless to me. Better to use Consumer Reports instead.
      • 2 Years Ago
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      surfundeep
      • 2 Years Ago
      I've been a Lexus/Toyota buyer for over 35 years..BUT...I'm finding that multiple sensor failures are draining my wallet and faith in Toyota. Our cars have become far too dependent on sensitive and long-term undependable sensors on the engines, transmissions, ECMs ad nauseum. Time for Toyota to match Hyundai's 100k/10 yr warranty or my next car will be Korean.
      • 2 Years Ago
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      Trish
      • 2 Years Ago
      Well I bought a 1 yr old handicapped Van for my son's transportation. First the stupid Bank put my husband's name on the loan (he didn't even want the car and he don't pay the loan..I do) and what a mess that caused with car insurance which I PAY FOR, And I have TRYED to get it changed and the male chauvinist will not listen to either of us..and the Van passenger's seat is the MOST uncomfortable seatgoing, I have to use extra cusions to make sure I'm high enough so I can see, but the floor board isn't comfortable either to rest my feet..it seems to be out of kilter. AND we just had the AC fixed, yep we bought a lemon...this Dodge is going to be a fix or repair daily I think. The Van is a 2011..SOO sorry I bought it. I'm paying for it and I'm not even getting the credit for it..my husband is, and he's not giving me one cent for it.
        surfundeep
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Trish
        I had a new dodge for 3 months and it sat in the shop for about 2 months. After the Dodge folks "Dodging" their responsibilities due to poor quality, I traded it for a 3 year-old Lexus and never looked back. Dodge is a DUD !
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