Smartphones preferred over in-car tech

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Automakers are spending billions on in-car technology that owners have no interest in using. The 2015 Driver Interactive Vehicle Experience (DrIVE) Report from auto research firm J.D. Power and Associates found that at least 20% of new car owners have never used 16 of the 33 car technology features the study measures, with Gen Y owners being even less interested overall. There were 23 features unwanted by at least 20% of Gen Y, specifically technology related to entertainment and connectivity.

“In many cases, owners simply prefer to use their smartphone or tablet because it meets their needs; they’re familiar with the device and it’s accurate,” says Kristin Kolodge, executive director of driver interaction and HMI research at J.D. Power and Associates.

The study, which surveys new car owners in the first 90 days of ownership, found the 5 features that those surveyed most commonly report never using are an in-vehicle concierge (43%), mobile routers (38%), automatic parking systems (35%), head-up display (33%) and built-in car apps (32%). The reasons most owners cited for not wanting a specific technology were that the owners did not find it useful or that it “came as a package on my current vehicle and I did not want it.”

The types of technology that most owners want to have are features that enhance the driving experience and safety but are built in to the car rather than as an external device. Technologies that car owners are the least interested in are diagnostics into the car’s health, blind-spot warning and detection systems, and adaptive cruise controls.

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“Automakers need to get it right the first time, or owners will simply use their own mobile device instead of the in-vehicle technology,” says Kolodge.

Wondering what the car of the future will look like? Check out 5 high-tech innovations in tomorrow’s cars.

Tara Baukus Mello writes the cars blog as well as the weekly Driving for Dollars column, providing both practical financial advice for consumers as well as insight into the latest developments in the automotive world. Follow her on Facebook here or on Twitter @SheDrives.