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2012 U.S. Navigation Usage and Satisfaction Study Results

1/15/2013
Overall owner satisfaction with their vehicle's factory-installed navigation systems has declined slightly from last year--possibly because the systems are becoming more difficult to use, or because more alternatives now exist--according to the recently released J.D. Power and Associates 2012 U.S. Navigation Usage and Satisfaction Study.SM On average, satisfaction with factory-installed navigation systems is 681 (on a 1,000-point scale), a decrease of 13 points from 694 in 2011. Satisfaction has declined in all factors measured, most notably in ease of use (637), which declines by 25 points year over year.

The study, now in its 14th year, identifies six factors that contribute to overall satisfaction with factory-installed navigation systems. In order of importance, they are ease of use; routing; navigation display screen; speed of system; voice directions; and voice activation. The study also measures quality by examining problems per 100 (PP100) vehicles, in which a lower score reflects higher quality.

Although many new-vehicle owners indicate that their factory-installed navigation system is better than their previous system, they are also frustrated with the complexity of menu systems, voice control commands, and inputting destinations. Moreover, as smartphones become more sophisticated in their capabilities, more owners prefer to use them for navigation instead of the system installed in their vehicle. In the 2012 study, 47% of vehicle owners indicate they use a downloaded application on their smartphone for navigation in their vehicle, compared with 37% in 2011. In addition, 46% of owners indicate they "definitely would not" or "probably would not" repurchase a factory-installed navigation system if their smartphone navigation could be displayed on a central screen in their vehicle.

"Manufacturers of navigation systems face a serious challenge as smartphone navigation usage continues to rise and gains preference among vehicle owners," said Mike VanNieuwkuyk, executive director of global automotive at J.D. Power and Associates. "Free apps, up-to-date maps, and a familiar interface allow for quicker routing and improved interaction, including better voice recognition. Manufacturers have a window of opportunity to either improve upon the current navigation system platforms or focus on new ways to integrate smartphones."

The study finds that input and selection controls account for six of the top 10 most frequent problems owners experience with their factory-installed navigation system. The remaining four problems are the inability to read the text due to size or location; the map not showing enough street names; the system being slow to boot/connect; and the screen lighting not working properly.

"As more than one-half of the top problems relate directly to inputting information and interacting with the navigation system, there is a clear need for manufacturers to improve upon the interaction between the user and the navigation system," said VanNieuwkuyk.

An interesting disconnect occurs on the issue of voice activation. It is the feature that scores lowest in satisfaction at 544, which is 93 points below the factor with the next-lowest score--and yet, 80% of vehicle owners who have a voice-activated navigation system say they would want that feature again in their next system.

"Smartphones and natural voice recognition have raised owner expectations across all vehicle segments, and manufacturers are not yet meeting these demands," said VanNieuwkuyk.

Satisfaction with the basic functions of factory-installed navigation systems, such as map routing, declines less than all those measured in the study, indicating they are performing as owners expect them to. However, satisfaction with the ease of using the system--such as connectivity with smartphones, user interface and integration with other media devices in the vehicle--declines more than the other functions measured.

"We're seeing a demand from owners for connectivity with not only other in-vehicle systems, but also their own equipment and smartphone," VanNieuwkuyk added. "Navigation systems are no longer viewed as a stand-alone component, but as part of a media, safety and infotainment package, and are expected to seamlessly work together, but in many cases are falling short of owner expectations."

Among vehicle models with a factory-installed navigation system that perform particularly well are the Garmin-supplied Chrysler 300 Series and Dodge Charger and the Harman-supplied Porsche Cayenne. The Garmin systems in both the Chrysler 300 Series and the Dodge Charger perform well in all factors, particularly in ease of use. The Harman system in the Porsche Cayenne also performs well in all factors, particularly voice activation.

The 2012 U.S. Navigation Usage and Satisfaction Study is based on responses from 20,704 owners who recently purchased or leased a new 2012 model-year vehicle with a factory-installed navigation system. The study was fielded in October and November 2012.

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