Tech overload is driving down car owner satisfaction


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In brief: The amount of technology found in modern cars is astounding, especially when it comes to advanced infotainment systems. But is this a good thing? Not according to a new survey, and it's part of the reason why owner satisfaction is declining.

As per The Verge, JD Power's Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study shows that overall satisfaction among car owners has, for the first time in the 28-year history of the study, seen a consecutive year-over-year decline.

The overall satisfaction rating in the study has fallen to 845 (on a scale of 1,000). That's two points lower compared to one year ago and three points lower than in 2021.

Of particular frustration for owners are their vehicles' infotainment systems. Just 56% said they prefer to use the built-in systems to play audio, a significant drop from 70% in 2020. Furthermore, less than half of owners said they use their cars' native controls for navigation, voice recognition, or to make phone calls. This suggests the majority of people prefer to use the likes of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

"The decline in consecutive years might look small, but it's an indicator that larger issues may lie under the surface," said Frank Hanley, senior director of auto benchmarking at JD Power.

"This downward trajectory of satisfaction should be a warning sign to manufacturers that they need to better understand what owners really want in their new vehicles."

An interesting part of the study found that vehicles featuring Android Automotive (AAOS) with Google Automotive Services (GAS) score higher in the infotainment category than those with no AAOS whatsoever. However, AAOS without GAS (aka Google built-in) had the lowest scores for infotainment of the three categories.

Several big automotive companies use GAS, including General Motors, which is blocking access to CarPlay and Android Auto in its future EV lineup in favor of a native GAS system.

One might imagine that a tech-focused car company like Tesla would have more success in this area. But while Elon Musk's EV giant does continue to rank above average – a score of 878 makes it one of the higher-performing brands - its satisfaction is declining, dropping by nine points in 2023 compared to the previous year. Satisfaction scores for Tesla are trending downward year-over-year in all 10 factors, writes JD Power.

Of those ten factors, the only one to improve across the entire survey this year is fuel economy, while the factor with the largest year-on-year decline is exterior.

Elsewhere, the highest-ranking premium brands were Jaguar (887), Land Rover (883), Porsche (883), and BMW (878). Dodge was the highest among mass-market brands, followed by Ram and GMC. Hyundai Motor Group had the most awards for models ranking highest in their respective segments, while Kia sets a record for most brand awards in a single year with seven.

As for the highest-ranking individual model, that honor goes to the Porsche 911.

The study is based on almost 85,000 owners of new cars who were surveyed after owning the vehicle for 90 days.

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The problem with all modern tech is that even though the technical capabilities get better and better every year, the user experience is getting worse and worse as companies try harder and harder to prevent users from using products the way they want and instead force them into usage patterns of the tech companies choice.

Your personal bookmarks and playlists get harder and harder to find among the promoted "recommendations" in the streaming apps and devices, you can no longer watch your social media feeds unfiltered in chronological order, configuration options are removed with new versions of software, phone cameras overprocess photos and you can't change the default settings, the list goes on. Car tech is no different. Interoperability and user choice is frowned upon.
In my personal experience the fragmentation that comes with Google auto is very bad. The problems went away after I upgraded to the Galaxy ultra 23 from the V40. At times there is still glitches now where my Waze app doesn't load in my q7 even after I put on my GPS on the phone. The only work around is kill the app on the phone and restart it, another distraction if driving. You have to take a few minutes every time you start your car to get everything going distraction free. Not sure if apple had the same issue. Before the galaxy 23 ultra the car would fail to handshake with the v40 and phones before it also happened to my previous Jeep grand Cherokee overland because of fragmentation. Support for Android Auto came a long way but aren't perfect yet. There is saying the more something is complex the higher of chances of failure there are.
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Tech is great when it just works. When it doesn't it's a pain because broken extra features are rarely worth it. A physical volume nob works every single time. A touchscreen one needs to do the same before adding the next feature.

The other issue is rising expectations. Having a crappy infotainment system 5-10 years ago was one thing, but manufacturers are still acting like this is brand new tech and consumers are tired of waiting for them to get it right.
It seems like automobile manufacturers are just implementing what they think is trendy in technology so that they can say "hey, we have that too" IMO, most practical people are not looking for trendy crap in their automobiles. To me, automobiles are a tool to get from one place to another - not a platform for trendy crap.

The same thing has definitely gone on in other industries and is failing dismally. Take, for instance, everyone jumping on the trend of streaming - without understanding that people, like myself, were revolting over being charged asinine rates for the amount of material I was actually watching.

In the ten years I've been streaming, I estimate I've saved $7,800 and with a combination of OTA reception, I'm way more than satisfied with my decision. I know its off topic, but I think that automobile manufacturers should realize that people don't want trendy crap especially if it does not work properly.
Yep .... cars are for transportation, not as a personal entertainment device. Now, if they automatically turned OFF all the non-essential devices while the car was in motion, that could be a different story .....
Maybe offer the consumer a low priced basic model without all the extra crap. Then the buyer could add just the functions they want, saving money.
My greatest enjoyment in cars comes from not having any of that noise distracting me from the driving experience. Personally, I don't want anything more than a good sound system and actual gauges (giving me specific readouts) for monitoring the vehicle vitals.
Maybe offer the consumer a low priced basic model without all the extra crap. Then the buyer could add just the functions they want, saving money.
Just found out that due to the high interest rates the leases not only went up by 25 to 30% they want even higher down payment seems like a lot of people will be forced to get base models because everything is becoming less affordable. I can imagine that financing them will be in the same predicament. Unless your balling in cash and buy it outright. Paying more for less can also lead to a lot of unsatisfied customers.
I don't like these "laptop screen" infotainment systems. Useless garbage anyway.
I've already got a map program in my phone if I need it. I've already got my phone
numbers, and what not in my phone if I need it.
The problem with these stupid things is DISTRACTION. The 2011 I drive now has
a 3-4 line digital display for the stereo. Everything else is buttons & knobs.
If I'm driving, I can feel around to change a station on the radio, adjust the volume,
change the AC/heat etc. With these laptop screen things you pretty much have to
take your eyes off the road to do anything.
I refuse to buy any car that has a DISPLAY in your face.

I would already own a Mustang Mach-E... if it wasn't for that ridiculous non-moveable display sitting in your face and FOV. None of any of that gimmicktry should be above the cowl, or intruding in the Driver's face. Driving a car is not a video game.... I have a simulator for that...! Engineers are getting "cute" instead of knowing what driving is for.... not play!

I don't use music apps in the car... I listen to LIVE local rock & roll radio station for music and social events updates.

I listen to music at home...
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