In-car technology owners never use
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In-car technology owners never use

According to the Driver Interactive Vehicle Experience Report from J.D. Power, lots of the fancy high-tech gizmos that come either optionally or as standard equipment on new cars isn't actually ever used by owners. In fact, "at least 20 percent of new-vehicle owners have never used 16 of the 33 technology features measured," according to the study.

The most frequently cited reasons why people don't want a specific technology in their cars are that owners don't find it useful or that it came as part of a package that they were forced to buy. The study measures driver experiences with in-vehicle technology features during the first 90 days of ownership.

To find out which technologies car owners don't want, click on the image above.

Head-up displays
  • Image Credit: General Motors

Head-up displays

A surprising 33 percent of survey responders say they never use head-up display technology in their cars. These systems display useful information, such as speed and navigation directions, directly on the windshield. Drivers don't need to remove their eyes from the road when using head-up displays, which could potentially be a safety benefit.

While useful, technologies that aren't used increase the cost of new vehicles without providing any benefit. “In-vehicle connectivity technology that’s not used results in millions of dollars of lost value for both consumers and the manufacturers,” said Kolodge.

In-car apps
  • Image Credit: Associated Press

In-car apps

Of those who responded to J.D. Power's most recent survey, 32 percent of new-car owners don't use in-car apps, including music, messaging and entertainment services. “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.

If owners don't want or use any of these specific technologies, does that mean modern cars should be stripped of high-tech features? Not necessarily. This same study found that some gadgets, such as vehicle health diagnostics, blind-spot warning and detection, and adaptive cruise control, are highly desired by car shoppers.

Automatic parking systems
  • Image Credit: Associated Press

Automatic parking systems

According to J.D. Power's 2015 Drive Report, 35 percent of owners who responded to the survey never use automatic parking systems. Considering the potential usefulness of such systems, such widespread non-use could very well be a training problem.

“While dealers are expected to play a key role in explaining the technology to consumers, the onus should be on automakers to design the technology to be intuitive for consumers,” said Kolodge. “Automakers also need to explain the technology to dealership staff and train them on how to demonstrate it to owners.”

Mobile routers
  • Image Credit: General Motors

Mobile routers

The second least-used in-car technology cited by J.D. Power are mobile routers. Of those who responded to this survey, 38 percent of car owners never use their wireless hotspots.

“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 & HMI research at J.D. Power.

According to J.D. Power's research, many new in-car technologies are not accurately explained in the car-buying process at the dealership, and some are never even activated before a car is delivered to its new owner. “The first 30 days are critical. That first-time experience with the technology is the make-it-or-break-it stage,” said Kolodge.

Concierge desk in a luxury hotel
  • Image Credit: Dutourdumonde / Alamy

In-vehicle concierge

The most frequently cited new-car technology that owners say they don't use are in-vehicle concierge services. According to J.D. Power's study, 43 percent of those who responded say they never use this feature.

To be fair, suits like OnStar include many valuable features that owners do use, but concierge services are not one of them. Wwners seem displeased that all of these high-tech features are bundled together in a system that they don't necessarily want.

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