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Are Drivers Actually Using All That Tech? Maybe Not

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2016 Hyundai Elantra Sedan overview

Be honest – Do you really use this?

Remember when you were a kid and got great presents for Christmas, but many times you played with them for the rest of winter break and forgot them when school started again? Turns out people do that with the technology in their new cars as well. We all drool over the latest technology available in new vehicles, but according to a new study, it sometimes gets ignored when we actually make a purchase.

The J.D. Power 2015 Driver Interactive Vehicle Experience, or DrIVE, Report asks drivers about their car 90 days after buying it for initial impressions. The study reported that 20% of new-vehicle drivers questioned admitted to not using several technology features on their car, which seems very high considering how much these features can add on to the price tag of a new vehicle.

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The DrIVE survey asked about 33 technology features found in cars today, and 16 of them had surprisingly low usage. For instance, 43% of those surveyed said they haven’t used the in-vehicle concierge system. That includes systems like OnStar that help drivers find points of interest near them.

Mobile routers went unused by 38% of these drivers, and 35% did not utilize automatic/assisted parking systems. Built-in apps, like Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, were not used by 32% of respondents, and the heads-up display was ignored by 33% of those surveyed.

According to the team at J.D. Power, a lot of features might go unused because they are already available on smartphones. For instance, why not just ask Google or Siri where the closest restaurant is, instead of trying to learn how to ask your car? Many drivers, especially members of Generation Y, would rather just use (and pay for) one device, like their mobile phone, to get the task done.

If a dealership neglected to explain a feature, drivers are also less likely to try and figure out how it works. If automakers don’t want their billions of dollars in research to go down the tubes, there needs to be better driver education before a new car drives off the lot.

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“The first 30 days are critical. That first-time experience with the technology is the make-it-or-break-it stage. Automakers need to get it right the first time, or owners will simply use their own mobile device instead of the in-vehicle technology.” said Kristin Kolodge, executive director of driver interaction & HMI research at J.D. Power.

The research team did note that if technology was part of the driving experience and tied to safety, it was more likely to be utilized than infotainment systems.

Source: J.D. Power