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Major New Study Reveals Most Valued Technology Among Luxury Vehicle Owners

A major new international study has revealed the most, and least, valued technologies among luxury vehicle owners.

The J.D. Power 2020 U.S. Tech Experience Index (TXI) Study of more than 82,500 respondents, provides an overview of how vehicle owners perceive advanced technology features.

The research found having a wide array of cameras which enhance driving visibility across multiple angles is rated by luxury vehicle owners as the most desired technology. A camera rear-view mirror has the highest index score (894) followed by ground view camera (884). 

Similarly, in the mass market segment, camera rear-view mirror also receives the highest overall score (889), followed by transparent trailer view (874) and ground view camera (858).

Among luxury owners, interior gesture controls — technology that allows the user to control various features in the vehicle using hand gestures instead of touching anything — is the lowest-rated technology by far across all satisfaction attributes. The technology is not yet available in mass market vehicles.

Owners who have this feature on their vehicle experience a high rate of problems (36 problems per 100 vehicles), which is more than twice the rate of the next closest technology. A high proportion (61%) of these owners use the technology less than half of the time they drive, with 14% having never tried it and 16% having tried it but no longer using it.

The research also found many owners don’t trust technologies necessary for more automated driving. 

Active driving assistance is designed so that the vehicle is able to perform functions such as acceleration, braking and steering, while the driver remains engaged in the driving task. Some drivers mention the positive experience they have from using the system (e.g., lower stress and arriving at their destination more refreshed), yet this necessary step to achieve higher levels of automated driving is failing to earn the trust of most drivers who consider it to be annoying or distracting. 

According to the study authors, there is wide variation in the execution strategy across brands for how the technology works and when or why it engages. 

“The race never ends to develop ‘must have’ vehicle technologies,” said Kristin Kolodge, executive director of driver interaction & human machine interface research at J.D. Power. “New technology continues to be a primary factor in the vehicle purchase decision. However, it’s critical for automakers to offer features that owners find intuitive and reliable. The user experience plays a major role in whether an owner will use the technology on a regular basis or abandon it and feel like they wasted their money.”

The researchers found Volvo Cars’ implementation of vehicle technology ranked higher than any other brand for its level of innovation.

Key findings showed that Volvo’s Oncoming Lane Mitigation (known as Automatic Emergency Steering in the study), Cross Traffic Alert with auto brake (Front and Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Rear Automatic Braking), and Pilot Assist (Active Driving Assistance) were among the most valued technologies. 

“At Volvo we believe in applying technology with purpose, not just for the sake of it,” said Anders Gustafsson, Senior Vice President Americas and President and CEO, Volvo Car USA. “We have always been about safety. The innovation in our new cars adds to that and the J.D. Power Tech Experience Index clearly shows how much our customers appreciate it.”

The study, now in its fifth year, has been redesigned for 2020 and specifically focuses on the most advanced technologies when they are first introduced in the market.

The TXI Innovation Index measures how effectively each automotive brand brings these technologies to market, measured on a 1,000-point scale. The index combines the level of adoption of new technologies for each brand with the excellence in execution. The execution measurement examines how much owners like the technologies and how many problems they experience while using them.

Personally, I’m not keen on lane keep assist and Start/Stop – how about you?

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