Study: Annoying Alerts Threaten Customer Demand For Safety Tech

Some alerts on advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) are so annoying that many drivers disable the systems and may seek to avoid them on future vehicle purchases, according to the 2019 U.S. Tech Experience Index Study from J.D. Power.

The firm’s research indicates that 23% of customers with lane-keeping and lane-centering systems complain that the alerts are bothersome. This ranges from just 8% for one domestic brand to over 30% for a couple of import brands. For these owners, 61% of them have disabled the system. Only 21% don’t consider the alerts annoying.

Additionally, within the category of owners who want the feature on their next vehicle there is variation, with ranges from 63% for those who consider the alerts bothersome to 91% for those who do not.

The firm contends that this is a major concern for automakers that want to market the technology and pave the way for highly automated vehicles in the future. Kristin Kolodge, executive director of driver interaction and human machine interface research at J.D. Power, stressed that the technology can’t come across as a “nagging parent,” pointing out that “no one wants to be constantly told they aren’t driving correctly.”

Kolodge also noted significant differences across brands. “Some brands are succeeding at making their safety technology effective without being overbearing,” she said. “Some are good at one aspect but weaker at another, and some are struggling with both. This is why one brand has 90% of its customers wanting lane-keeping/centering on their next vehicles, while another brand has just 59% of its customers saying the same thing.”

Overall satisfaction with new vehicle technology ranged widely across the vehicles studied. The best-performing vehicle was the Kia Stinger (scoring 834 on a 1,000-point scale). The overall average was 781. The lowest-scoring model came in at 709.

The study measures owners’ experiences, use and interaction with 38 kinds of driver-centric vehicle technology at 90 days of ownership. The major categories analyzed in the study were entertainment and connectivity, collision protection, comfort and convenience, driving assistance, smartphone mirroring, and navigation.

Collision protection had the highest score (813) among the six categories measured with smartphone mirroring (789) coming in second. This was followed by comfort and convenience (787), entertainment and connectivity (782), driving assistance (768), and navigation (744).

Following are additional findings from the study …
Apple and Google taking over? 69% of respondents said they have Apple CarPlay or Android Auto in their vehicles. According to J.D. Power, this is starting to jeopardize future sales of automakers’ factory-installed navigation systems, as 68% of owners with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto want factory-installed navigation on their next vehicle, compared with 72% of those without Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. This is a significant future profit loss for the automakers, the firm points out.
Built-in apps not meeting user expectations. The attribute for “ease of using built-in apps” was the lowest-performing attribute in the entertainment and connectivity category (7.63 on a 10-point scale). Among the 29% of owners who have discontinued the use of built-in apps, 46% indicated that they “do not need it” and 18% said they “have another device that performs the function better.” Apps on external devices are a competitive threat, J.D. Power contends, and it’s imperative that automakers ensure intuitiveness and ease of use.
High satisfaction drives recommendation and repurchase intent. Owner satisfaction with vehicle technology strongly determines whether they will recommend or repurchase the brand, according to the firm’s research. When overall satisfaction was greater than 900, 75% said they “definitely will” repurchase the same make again and 95% said they “definitely will” recommend it. Automakers looking to drive loyalty need to provide a highly satisfying tech usage experience, J.D. Power advises.

“Consumers are still very concerned about cars being able to drive themselves, and they want more information about these complex systems, as well as more channels to learn how to use them or how and why they kick in,” Kolodge said. “If they can’t be sold on lane-keeping — a core technology of self-driving — how are they going to accept fully automated vehicles?

“Dealers remain a partner in the process of helping translate to consumers what these technologies bring to the table, but consumers still need that element of trust that systems are going to kick in when they’re supposed to. It’s essential that the industry recognize the importance of an owner’s first experience with these lower-level automated technologies, because this will help determine the future of adoption of fully automated vehicles.”

The 2019 U.S. Tech Experience Index Study was based on a survey of over 20,000 owners and lessees. The study was fielded between February and July 2019.