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2015 Vehicle Dependability Study: In-Vehicle Technology Significantly Impacts Owner Satisfaction

By: Jeff Youngs, 2/25/2015

According to the J.D. Power 2015 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study,SM usability issues associated with in-vehicle technology increasingly influences vehicle owners' perception of vehicle dependability. In the study, redesigned for 2015, Bluetooth connectivity and built-in voice-recognition systems are the two most frequently reported problems.

"Technology issues with vehicles are viewed as significant problems by owners, and they typically don't go away after the honeymoon period of vehicle ownership is over," said Renee Stephens, vice president of U.S. automotive at J.D. Power. "Furthermore, indications from our upcoming 2015 Tech Choice StudySM show that consumer expectations on advanced technology capabilities are growing. Owners clearly want the latest technology in their vehicles, and they are particularly critical when it doesn't work."

Problems with technology also affect repurchase intent. The study finds that 56% of vehicle owners who experience no problems with their vehicle plan to purchase the same brand the next time, compared with 43% of vehicle owners who experience three or more problems. Additionally, 15% of new-vehicle buyers say they have avoided a model because it lacked the latest technological features, a significant increase compared with last year when just 4% of survey respondents said the same.

To retain customers, Stephens recommends that automakers and dealers proactively reach out to customers to address technology problems. "Oftentimes issues owners experience can be resolved with a software update, or in the case of Bluetooth pairing problems, dealers can step in to help. In cases such as these, proactively reaching out to owners presents the opportunity...to engage with customers in a positive way."

Vehicle owners also report a significant number of problems with engines and transmissions, particularly in newly launched models, continuing a trend identified in the 2014 Vehicle Dependability Study. Of all reported problems with vehicle powertrains, nearly 30% are attributed to automatic transmission hesitation and rough shifting.

Lexus, Buick, Toyota Rank Highest among Nameplates in Vehicle Dependability
Based on survey responses from more than 34,000 original owners of 2012 model-year vehicles, the 2015 Vehicle Dependability Study finds that Lexus ranks highest in dependability among all nameplates, and by a significant margin. Buick ranks second, followed by Toyota, Cadillac, and Honda and Porsche in a tie. Scion, Ram, and Mitsubishi are the nameplates seeing the highest increases in dependability compared with last year.

Among individual vehicle models, automakers General Motors and Toyota Motor Corp. lead the award count, each receiving a total of seven awards. Mercedes-Benz receives two awards, while Honda, Kia and Nissan brands each receive one award.

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