As automakers race into the electric vehicle market, car owners are getting fed up with their recent designs — and irked that simple controls like air conditioning and built-in audio are embedded inside high-tech software that’s hard to use.
JD Power’s Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study, is based on 10 factors — nine of which have declined, JD Power reported. Those include customers’ approval of their vehicle’s built-in infotainment systems — the hub of air controls, GPS systems, music, and more that’s often displayed on a touchscreen in today’s car models.
The survey found that only 56% of owners prefer to use their vehicle’s built-in system to play audio — a sharp decline from 70% in 2020.
In addition, infotainment systems’ three most common features — phone calls, voice recognition, and navigation — are slipping down the popularity scale. Only 45%, 37%, and 43%, respectively, of owners, prefer to use these built-in features in 2023.
While the APEAL study measures overall customer satisfaction on a 1,000-point scale, respondents came in at 845 this year. That’s two points lower than it was in 2022 and three points lower than in 2021, marking the first time the study saw a consecutive year-over-year decline in satisfaction in 28 years.
The results were derived from responses from 84,555 owners of 2023 model-year vehicles after 90 days of ownership, collected between February and May.
It could be that drivers are instead opting for smartphone-mirroring techs like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
According to CarPlay’s site, “more than 800” car models on the market today support the Apple-backed tech. Android’s site, meanwhile, touts that Auto is supported in “over 500 models.”
“Built-in infotainment systems are a prime example of a technology not resonating with today’s buyers,” JD Power concluded.
However, the satisfaction rate for native operating systems that are developed by Google rather than the automaker could serve as a glimmer of hope for infotainment.
JD Power reported that models with Google’s Android Automotive hardware that came with Google Automotive’s operating system (GAS) — dubbed AAOS — “scored higher in the infotainment category than those with no AAOS whatsoever.”
GM, Volvo, and Ford have all said that GAS will be integrated into current and future models.
Ford’s newest electric vehicle, the F-150 Lightning, however, boasts in own native infotainment system that its website touts as compatible with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Its rival, Tesla, has an entirely separate information and entertainment hub, which it calls the Toybox, that boasts features like a pedestrian warning system, a prank button that’ll make a fart noise when someone gets into their seat, and a personal music studio called TRAX.
The features aren’t doing much for customer satisfaction, though, JD Power’s report showed.
Out of 1,000 points, Tesla scored 878 — below Jaguar, Land Rover, and Porsche and tied with BMW.
The score is nine points lower than in 2022 when Tesla was first included in the APEAL Study.
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