Are new vehicle tech innovations making drivers less happy?
According to a new survey into driver happiness, it appears that new technology and design innovations are having a negative impact.
The US Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) study, commissioned by JD Power, revealed that for the first time in the 28 year history of the study, customer satisfaction has fallen two years in a row.
With customer satisfaction dropping for new car owners, the main reasons were attributed to new technology and the exterior design of the vehicle.
But particular frustration is with infotainment systems, with people turning away from them as ways of listening to music and get around.
APEAL quizzed 85,000 owners of new cars between February and May of this year. The survey found that 56% of car owners prefer to use their car’s in-built system to play audio – a fall from 70% in 2020. Furthermore, less than half of drivers like to use the various integrated systems for phone calls, voice recognition, and navigation.
There has been an increase in the popularity of external systems through mobile devices – such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto – which let drivers mirror their phone screens on the car’s centre console.
Drivers seem to prefer them over the manufacturer’s screen.
The overall ‘satisfaction’ of drivers is measured on a 1000-point scale. This year the score was 845 – two points fewer than 2022. This was also three points fewer when compared to the year before.
Frank Hanley, senior director of auto benchmarking at JD Power, said: “The decline in consecutive years might look small, but it’s an indicator that larger issues may lie under the surface.
“Despite the technology and design innovations that manufacturers put into new vehicles, owners are lukewarm about them. While innovations like charging pads, vehicle apps and advanced audio features should enhance an owner’s experience, this is not the case when problems are experienced.
“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.”