Car owners less satisfied with new vehicle innovations, study finds

Closeup image a woman using and pointing finger at navigation screen while driving car

According to a ground-breaking study, people are becoming less satisfied with their cars, and it seems that new technology and design advancements are to blame.

People are pointing to a range of issues, including the exterior design of the car, which is leading to a decline in customer satisfaction. However, particular frustration is with the infotainment systems, resulting in people turning away from them as ways of listening to music and getting around.

A decrease from 70 per cent in 2020, only 56 per cent of car owners prefer to use their car’s in-built system to play audio. Integrated systems for navigation, voice recognition, and phone calls are preferred by less than half of car owners.

Instead, users are presumably using external systems, such as their phones. Nowadays, technologies such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto have made it possible for someone to mirror those screens, rather than use the built-in and often complicated software provided by car manufacturers.

That is according to the US Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) study, run by JD Power. In the 28 year history of the study, it is the first time that customer satisfaction has fallen two years in a row – and could point to a range of issues in the car market.

A scale of 1000 points is used to measure satisfaction. It was measured at 845 this year, which was down two points from 2022 and three points from the year before.

Frank Hanley, senior director of auto benchmarking at JD Power, said in a statement: “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.”

The survey also revealed a decline in satisfaction with some tech-focused car companies. Tesla is still among the top-performing brands, but the company’s score, which was 878 when the company was first included in the study, is down nine points from last year.

The study was based on almost 85,000 owners of new cars who were surveyed after owning the vehicle for 90 days. It ran between February and May of this year.

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