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J.D. Power Reports Unprecedented Frustration Among Owners with New Car Technology

J.D. Power Reports Unprecedented Frustration Among Owners with New Car Technology
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According to the recently released Initial Quality Survey (IQS) by automotive research firm J.D. Power, new car owners are expressing significantly more grievances compared to previous years. These complaints encompass a wide range of aspects, including the latest in-car technology and even door handles.

In the initial 90 days of ownership, the number of complaints registered by new car owners and lessees has surged to 192 problems per 100 vehicles (PP100), indicating a significant rise. This figure represents an increase of 12 problems compared to the previous year and a notable 30 problems over the past two years. Such an upsurge marks the highest recorded increase in the 37-year history of the IQS survey.

According to Frank Hanley, the senior director of auto benchmarking at J.D. Power, the automotive industry is currently grappling with a diverse array of quality issues. In a statement, he noted that these problems encompass both persisting issues from previous years and a rise in new types of problems. While today’s new vehicles boast advanced technology that brings excitement, they do not consistently meet the satisfaction of owners. Hanley emphasized that the increasing complexity of modern vehicles contributes to this dynamic.

Contributing to the mounting frustration, new car buyers are facing near-record high prices while purchasing these technologically advanced vehicles. Out of the nine categories in the survey consisting of 223 questions, answered by over 93,000 participants, the category of “features, controls, and displays” exhibited the highest surge in complaints. It was closely followed by the “infotainment” category, reflecting the challenges and grievances experienced by owners in relation to these aspects.

The 2022 IQS survey revealed that the most prevalent issue reported by owners was dropped connections with Apple CarPlay. In the current year’s findings, one notable increase in reported problems was related to wireless smartphone charging. This trend signifies the expanding range of convenience features being incorporated into new vehicles. J.D. Power suggests that this presents an opportunity missed by automakers, as it highlights the need for better implementation and integration of these features to enhance customer satisfaction.

J.D. Power Reports Unprecedented Frustration Among Owners with New Car Technology

According to Hanley, this presents an area where manufacturers can truly impress customers with the convenience of driver-assist technology but unfortunately end up creating issues instead. This observation extends to the increasing prevalence of these features in new cars, as 80% of respondents reported having driver-assist technology, encompassing automatic emergency braking, active lane control, and blind-spot monitors. Notably, the first two safety systems posed particular problems, which could be attributed to the unfamiliarity of drivers with the systems and their corresponding alerts, rather than inherent effectiveness.

Among the reported issues, some appear rather superfluous, such as cupholders that fail to fulfill their intended function or unconventional door handles that owners find perplexing. This observation holds particularly true for electric vehicles, where designers often opt for flush handles or incorporate buttons and other retractable features to enhance aerodynamics and efficiency. Interestingly, J.D. Power discovered that seven out of the ten models with the highest number of complaints in this regard were battery electric vehicles.

In more positive news, a higher number of owners expressed satisfaction with automaker apps. However, electric vehicle owners, who heavily rely on these apps for charging status, preconditioning, and other exclusive features not found in internal combustion vehicles, had a higher frequency of complaints compared to other users. It is important to note that a higher IQS, which indicates an increased number of reported problems, does not necessarily imply that the car itself is of lower quality. Rather, it often reflects the introduction of newer cars with advanced technologies, highlighting the need to address minor issues that emerge during real-world ownership and usage. This is a common phenomenon observed throughout the history of internal combustion vehicles.