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Modern Infotainment Systems is Top Reported Problem with New Vehicles

By: Jeff Youngs, 8/28/2014

According to J.D. Power research, new-vehicle buyers report that audio, communication, entertainment, and navigation (ACEN) systems are the primary source of problems with their cars, trucks, SUVs, and vans. Built-in voice recognition and Bluetooth connectivity are the two most frequently cited problems with new vehicles, followed by wind noise and navigation system problems.

"Voice recognition and device connectivity are often inherent to the technology design and cannot be fixed at the dealership, creating a high level of angst among new-vehicle owners," said Mike VanNieuwkuyk, executive director of global automotive at J.D. Power. "With voice recognition and connectivity problems, owners have had to learn to live with the shortcomings of this feature and instead rely on such work-around options as knobs and controls on the steering wheel and head unit to offset the core problem. Despite having alternative controls, this problem still negatively impacts owner satisfaction."

The recently released J.D. Power 2014 Multimedia Quality and Satisfaction StudySM indicates that reported problems with built-in voice-recognition systems rose from 7.6 PP100 (problems per 100 vehicles) in 2013 to 8.3 PP100 in 2014. The three most frequently cited problems with built-in voice-recognition systems are Doesn't recognize/misinterprets verbal commands (63%); Doesn't recognize/misinterprets names/words (44%); and Doesn't recognize/misinterprets numbers (31%).

Most new-vehicle buyers want built-in voice recognition and Bluetooth connectivity, but most also indicate that their wireless phones are more capable than the systems in their vehicles. Furthermore, new-vehicle buyers are not eager to pay for technology that they perceive will not work as needed or expected. VanNieuwkuyk says auto manufacturers have good intentions in designing and developing such systems, but the efforts yield poor results.

Additional findings from the 2014 Multimedia Quality and Satisfaction Study demonstrate that problems with Bluetooth pairing and connectivity are down this year, declining to 5.7 PP100 in 2014 from 6.3 PP100 in 2013. Nevertheless, Bluetooth-related issues remain the second most frequently cited problem among new-vehicle buyers, 40% of whom indicate that their in-car Bluetooth system won't find or recognize their mobile phone or device. Another 30% of new-vehicle buyers say their Bluetooth systems do not automatically connect when they enter the vehicle.

The Multimedia Quality and Satisfaction Study measures new-vehicle owner opinions of ACEN system quality, design, and features after the first 90 days of ownership. More than 86,000 new-vehicle buyers were surveyed for the 2014 study.

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