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Challenges in In-Vehicle Technology Rise despite Stellar IQS Results

Challenges in In-Vehicle Technology Rise despite Stellar IQS Results

By Jeff Youngs, June 25, 2012

Although there are year-over-year gains in nearly all areas of new-vehicle initial quality, there is one notable exception--in-vehicle technology--according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2012 U.S. Initial Quality StudySM (IQS), which is based on evaluations of more than 74,700 new-vehicle buyers and lessees after the first 90 days of ownership.

This year, problems with audio, entertainment, and navigation systems have increased by 8% from 2011. Since 2006, we have seen that problems in the in-vehicle technology category have risen by 45%, while problem incidence in other categories has improved by 24%, on average.

We also observe that for the first time in the 26-year history of our IQS, new-vehicle owners report more problems related to audio, entertainment, and navigation systems than in any other vehicle area. This is due in part to the rapid increase in equipping mass market models with new technology, such as voice recognition. In 2012, a majority, or more than 80%, of owners indicate that their new vehicle has some form of hands-free technology.

In our research we are seeing that the number of owner-reported problems with factory-installed hands-free communication devices has climbed 137% during the past four years. The single most-often-cited problem in the industry this year is "Hands-free communication-doesn't recognize command."

It's a given that as smartphones become ubiquitous in the lives of consumers and are ever-more sophisticated, expectations among buyers about the complementary technologies being offered in new models will only get higher. We are aware that automakers and suppliers are working hard to meet those expectations with systems intended to make the driving experience safer, more convenient and more entertaining. It's a cautionary tale, however, because the most innovative technology in the world also will quickly create dissatisfaction if owners can't get it to work.

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