Study: Not All Car Tech Wanted, Used

16_Mazda_Mazda6_Head-Up_Display.jpg 2016 Mazda6 head-up display; | photo by Evan Sears

A large percentage of car owners have vehicle tech systems they’re not really interested in, that they never wanted and in many cases never even knew they had. That’s according to a study released this week by the market researchers at J.D. Power; they surveyed more than 4,000 car buyers after their first 90 days of ownership.

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The 2015 Driver Interactive Vehicle Experience Report found that at least a fifth of new-vehicle owners have never used nearly half of the technology features measured, and that many are simply content with what they can do on their smartphones. The result, J.D. Power stated, is untold millions of dollars in value lost for both consumers and manufacturers.

Features survey respondents reported “never” using include: in-vehicle concierge, which recommends nearby businesses and other locations, eschewed by 43 percent; mobile routers, 38 percent; auto parking systems, 35 percent; head-up displays, 33 percent; and built-in apps, 32 percent.

But how many of the owners surveyed in the study actually had these features?

J.D. Power told us that they asked the entire field of 4,200 owners if they had the above technologies and significant sample sizes responded affirmative. The only feature that seemed to have a small sample, approximately 100, was automatic parking.

Among the least-popular tech features are entertainment and connectivity systems including newcomers like Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto, as well as automaker-offered in-vehicle voice texting and concierge services like OnStar. Those were among more than a dozen features at least 20 percent said they do not want, a figure that jumps to nearly a 25 percent among millennials.

“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,” Kristin Kolodge, a researcher at J.D. Power, said in a statement.

The leading reasons owners gave for their disinterest in in-car tech features included: “did not find it useful” and “came as part of a package and did not want it.” The study showed that if dealers did not explain a feature, or if a feature had not been activated upon a car’s delivery, owners would likely never use it — or never even know they had it.

— Managing Editor David Thomas contributed to this report.

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Former Assistant Managing Editor-News Matt Schmitz is a veteran Chicago journalist indulging his curiosity for all things auto while helping to inform car shoppers. Email Matt Schmitz

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