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JD Power: Automakers And Phone Manufacturers Both Vying For Consumers’ Attention

The study found that Apple CarPlay outperforms Android Auto, and Google Maps is the most preferred navigation.


Some technologies, such as smartphone mirroring, are quickly adopted by new-vehicle owners, while other technologies can take decades to be fully embraced according to the J.D. Power 2018 U.S. Tech Experience Index (TXI) Study released today.

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Two clear examples of technologies with rapid adoption are Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, each of which are quickly becoming “must-haves” for many consumers just a few years after their introduction. Both are showing rapid year-over-year penetration increases. In contrast, many technologies that have been around much longer are not nearly as sought-after by new-vehicle owners.

“This rapid adoption of smartphone mirroring is the unavoidable outcome of consumers thinking that automakers are being outperformed by smartphone software providers in certain areas,” said Kristin Kolodge, executive director of driver interaction and HMI research at J.D. Power. “Most consumers consider phone systems better for navigation and voice recognition – and they’re free. ‘Better and free’ are hard to compete with, so automakers will inevitably have to cede this territory and will be much better served by focusing on areas where they are the exclusive provider – like driver assistance and collision avoidance – and continue to hone those systems.”


Factory-installed navigation systems are easily replaced by another device. In fact, 19 percent of new-vehicle owners who have factory-installed navigation don’t use it and, of these, 70 percent use another device instead, almost always a smartphone.

In the smartphone mirroring battle, drivers using Apple CarPlay report higher satisfaction with the system than those using Android Auto (777 vs. 748, respectively, on a 1,000-point scale). However, Google fights back when it comes to navigation, JD Power finds. Among owners who use their own navigation system, 56 percent use Google Maps most often and 16 percent use Google-owned Waze most often, while only 23 percent use Apple Maps most often. Even iPhone owners are more likely to use Google Maps than Apple Maps, whereas very few Android owners use Apple Maps.


The study also finds that wide differences exist between automakers in terms of how frequently owners use some of their systems. For instance, the number of owners who say they use their lane-keeping/centering system “every time they drive” ranges from a low of 46 percent to a high of 67 percent across the different automakers. For adaptive cruise control, the range is 16 to 42 percent and for voice recognition it is 10 to 29 percent.

Obviously, there is something to be learned about what is driving those differences. Automakers that create systems that aren’t being used are making investments in technology that are unlikely to be successful.


“Today’s experience with a technology drives tomorrow’s desire,” added Kolodge. “Consumers are challenging the level of usefulness that some automotive technology provides, including whether it’s needed at all. For example, although automakers’ built-in navigation systems are appreciated for image quality, owners often prefer using smartphone-based navigation because they consider it more accurate.”

Overall satisfaction with new-vehicle technology among owners of luxury vehicles averages 766, while satisfaction among owners of mass-market vehicles is 765. This is a 16-point and 15-point improvement, respectively, from 2017.

The study, now in its third year, measures owners’ experiences, usage and interaction with 38 driver-centric vehicle technologies at 90 days of ownership. The study provides clarity to auto manufacturers, insurance carriers, telecommunications companies and consumer electronics companies for ways to minimize the gap between driver experience and execution. The major technology categories analyzed in the study are entertainment and connectivity; comfort and convenience; driving assistance; collision protection; navigation and smartphone mirroring.


“Automakers need to be very clear where they can win – areas in which there’s no alternative – and where they may have to accept defeat, such as navigation and voice recognition,” said Kolodge. “The smart option in some areas may be to offer the best integration, not the least bad alternative.”

The 2018 TXI Study is based on a survey of nearly 20,000 vehicle owners and lessees. Awards are based solely on responses from the 14,800 owners who purchased or leased a new 2018 model-year vehicle in the previous 90 days that is an all-new or redesigned model within the past three years. The study was fielded from February through July 2018.


For more information about the Tech Experience Index Study, click here.