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Consumers like in-vehicle tech but don't fully understand it -- or use it

October 20, 2017
Most owners still don’t completely understand and use all the technology available in their vehicles, according to a recent J.D. Power study. Responses also showed confusion about low-speed collision avoidance and its usefulness.
That could pose problems for a future in which owners are expected to trust technology enough to take their hands off the wheel and let cars drive themselves.
The experience that a consumer has with technology today has an impact on what they want tomorrow, said J.D. Power’s Kristin Kolodge.
"A positive experience with technologies like a back-up camera, blind-spot warning and adaptive cruise control is very important because they are the foundational building blocks, the introductory technologies to lower levels of automated systems," she said.
Whether consumers are comfortable with the technology in vehicles taking over lower levels of control, whether they like the experience, trust it and find it useful will determine whether they like, trust and want fully self-driving vehicles.
"If they do not have a positive experience, the likelihood that they’ll want a greater level of automation is really very low," she said.
While not wanting to raise it to the level of a "red flag," she sees a possible issue building with consumer acceptance of low-speed collision avoidance systems, a technology which is integral to the operation of self-driving cars.
"There is a lot of consumer confusion about how do I know if it’s working? Is the system really on? Is it just going to provide a warning to me or is it actually going to brake? This is where understanding and trust start to come in."
This isn’t a technology that’s easy for consumers to test the way a consumer can test their back-up camera.
The  2017 Tech Experience Index Study, in its second year, measured drivers’ experiences, usage and interaction – basically their satisfaction – with 35 vehicle technologies at 90 days of ownership. Major categories analyzed were entertainment and connectivity; comfort and convenience; driving assistance; collision protection; navigation and smartphone mirroring. Satisfaction is scored on a 1,000-point scale. 
This Tech Experience study differs from the company’s Tech Choice study, which looks at consumer awareness and interest in future and emerging technologies. Owners were most satisfied with safety technologies such as blind spot detection and warning and back-up cameras; they were least satisfied with their navigation systems.