BUSINESS Autos

Car technology systems failing consumers, J.D. Power study finds

Automaker technology packages fail consumers, according to J.D. Power report
Drivers say their phones work better than their car systems for voice recognition, other technology
Automakers need to start over with infotainment systems, J.D. Power report says

Here’s why consumers say they don’t like the fancy tech systems in their cars: They don’t work very well.

Auto manufacturers face deepening challenges with technology as customer frustration with their multimedia systems builds, according to a study from market research firm J.D. Power and Associates.

Technology issues are now the most prevalent type of problem with new vehicles, according to the J.D. Power report on consumer reaction to the features on their newly purchased cars

The biggest complaint? Built-in voice recognition systems.

Bluetooth connectivity is the second-most frequently reported problem, followed by wind noise and navigation problems.

The problems abound even in a climate of high consumer demand for increasing levels of technology in new vehicles, the report said.

“Voice recognition and device connectivity are often inherent to the technology design and cannot be fixed at the dealership, creating a high level of angst among new-vehicle owners,” said Mike VanNieuwkuyk, executive director of global automotive at J.D. Power.

The problems consumers cite most often are that the systems don’t recognize or misinterpret verbal commands (63%); don’t recognize or misinterpret names and words (44%); and don’t recognize or misinterpret numbers (31%).

The findings are from of the J.D. Power 2014 Multimedia Quality and Satisfaction Study released Thursday.

Owners who are stuck with the glitches find themselves defaulting to unsatisfying work-around options such as knobs and controls on the steering wheel and dashboard, VanNieuwkuyk said.

Despite the complaints, car companies continue to produce built-in voice recognition and connectivity systems that are not in sync with consumer expectations, he added.

“Manufacturers have good intentions, but ultimately their efforts yield poor results,” VanNieuwkuyk said.

Consumers are frustrated because they know good technology exists; they already have voice recognition and connectivity in their smartphones, the report said.

While drivers want similar technology in their cars, they want it to work, and they aren’t willing to pay a lot for it, especially if they doubt the systems will work, according to the report.

J.D. Power found that 70% of new-vehicle owners indicate interest in built-in voice recognition. But when given a cost of $500 for this technology, purchase intent drops to 44%.

“Automotive manufacturers really need to go back to the basics and design these systems so drivers can keep their hands on the wheel, their eyes on the road and their mind on the drive,” VanNieuwkuyk said.

Follow me on Twitter (@LATimesJerry), Facebook and Google+.

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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