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J.D. Power & Associates Says Increased Complexity of Vehicle Multimedia Systems Creates Usability Problems for New Vehicle Owners
September 12, 2011
By aftermarketNews staff
WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif. — As multimedia systems in vehicles become increasingly sophisticated, owners report more problems using them, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2011 U.S. Multimedia Quality and Satisfaction Study, which was just released.

The study finds that new-vehicle owners report more problems within their vehicle’s multimedia system as the complexity of the system grows. For example, owners report an average of 4.8 problems per 100 vehicles (PP100) when the system includes AM/FM radio, a single CD player and satellite radio. This rises to an average of 12.1 PP100 when a navigation system is added.

Despite this, consumer interest in high-tech features continues to increase, with many new-vehicle owners desiring additional technology on their next vehicle, according to J.D. Power.

Nearly one-half of new-vehicle owners who do not currently have a navigation system say they want one in their next vehicle, while a similar proportion who do not currently have steering wheel controls for the audio system want these in their next vehicle. Of the owners who currently have these features, nearly all of them say they will also want them on their next vehicle.

“As consumers continue to demand additional content within their vehicle, having the latest multimedia features is vital to retaining existing customers and winning over new customers to a brand,” said Allan Dix, research director of automotive product quality at J.D. Power and Associates. “Multimedia contenting is a critical battleground for automakers, and the key to winning is to integrate this technology in a user-friendly manner, which requires a close partnership between automakers and suppliers.”

The study evaluates owner experiences with the quality, design and features of multimedia systems in their new vehicles. The information from the study is designed to assist automakers and suppliers with improving the design and manufacture of audio, entertainment and navigation systems, which are increasingly important to new-vehicle buyers. Problems are measured per 100 vehicles (PP100), with a lower PP100 score indicating higher quality.

Alpine Electronics, Inc. and SANYO Automotive U.S.A. tie to rank highest in the AM/FM/single CD player segment with a score of 3.2 PP100. Clarion follows in the segment rankings with 3.6 PP100.

In the AM/FM/single CD player/satellite radio segment, Delphi Corporation of America ranks highest with a score of 3.4 PP100. Hyundai Mobis (3.9 PP100) and Continental Automotive (4.6 PP100) follow in the segment rankings.

The non-competitive split-sourcing arrangement between DENSO and Fujitsu Ten ranks highest in the AM/FM/single CD player/satellite radio/navigation segment with an overall PP100 score of 7.3. In this particular split-sourcing arrangement, DENSO supplies the navigation system and Fujitsu Ten supplies the audio system.

The study also finds that a premium-branded audio system has the largest positive impact on overall sound system satisfaction. In addition, vehicle owners with a premium-branded audio system are more likely to recommend their vehicle brand to others — 77 percent of owners with a premium-branded system say they “definitely will” recommend their brand, compared with 68 percent of vehicle owners who do not have a premium-branded system. Similarly, one-half of new-vehicle owners with a premium-branded audio system say they “definitely will” purchase or lease the same brand for their next vehicle (vs. 41 percent among vehicle owners without premium-branded audio systems).

The 2011 U.S. Multimedia Quality and Satisfaction Study is based on responses from more than 73,000 new-vehicle owners who purchased or leased a 2011 model-year vehicle. The study was fielded between February and May 2011. Twenty-eight different multimedia permutations are evaluated, which include different combinations of the following systems: AM/FM radio; cassette player; single CD player; multiple CD changer; navigation system; and satellite radio. Multimedia system suppliers are ranked based on the number of problems experienced per 100 vehicles (PP100) in three segments: AM/FM/single CD player; AM/FM/single CD player/satellite radio; AM/FM/single CD player/satellite radio/navigation.