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August 20, 2020

No One Cares About Gesture Controls

New-vehicle buyers are being offered an increasing number of advanced technology features, some of which are hits while others are currently missing the mark.

J.D. Power released the 2020 U.S. Tech Experience Index or TXI study, and finds that automakers that innovate and are early to offer new technologies—so long as customers value them—stand to benefit most as those technologies enter the mainstream.

According to the study, new technology has become a primary factor in the vehicle purchase decision. That said, it’s critical for automakers to offer features that owners find intuitive and reliable. They find that the user experience plays a major role in whether an owner will use the technology on a regular basis or abandon it and feel like they wasted their money.

The TXI Innovation Index measures how effectively each automotive brand brings these technologies to market, measured on a 1,000-point scale. The index combines the level of adoption of new technologies for each brand with the excellence in execution. The execution measurement examines how much owners like the technologies, and how many problems they experience while using them.

The 2020 study revealed that owners seem to love cameras, lots of them. Owners see having an “extra set of eyes” help them drive their vehicle. Notably, owners in the luxury segment rate such technologies highest in five of the six satisfaction attributes measured in the study.

A Camera-based rear-view mirror earns the highest Execution Index score (894) among luxury owners, followed by a ground view camera (884). Among advanced camera/vision technologies, having a camera rear-view mirror receives the highest overall execution in the mass market segment (889), followed by transparent trailer view (874), and ground view camera (858). High percentages of owners who have these three features say they “definitely will” want these features on their next vehicle (73 percent for camera rear-view mirror, 62 percent for ground view mirror and 53 percent for transparent trailer view).

On the other hand, owners are giving the finger to gesture controls. Among luxury owners, interior gesture controls—technology that allows the user to control various features in the vehicle using hand gestures instead of touching anything—is the lowest-rated technology by far across all satisfaction attributes. (The technology isn’t yet available in the mass market segment.) Owners who have this feature on their vehicle experience a high rate of problems (36 problems per 100 vehicles), which is more than twice the rate of the next closest technology. A high proportion (61 percent) of these owners use the technology less than half of the time they drive, with 14 percent having never tried it and 16 percent having tried it but no longer using it.

In addition, many owners don’t trust technologies necessary for more automated driving. Some drivers mention the positive experience they have from using the system (e.g., lower stress and arriving at their destination more refreshed), yet this necessary step to achieve higher levels of automated driving is failing to earn the trust of most drivers who consider it to be annoying or distracting. There is wide variation in the execution strategy across brands for how the technology works and when or why it engages. Training drivers on the proper usage of such systems is imperative to eliminate misunderstanding of the technology’s capabilities and, in many cases, this training is simply not happening.

Among the carmakers ranked by J.D. Power in this year’s study, Volvo ranks highest overall with an Innovation Index score of 617 and offers a high level of advanced technologies across its entire product lineup. In the luxury segment, BMW (583) ranks second, followed by Cadillac (577), Mercedes-Benz (567) and Genesis (559).

Hyundai ranks highest in the mass market segment with a score of 556. Hyundai offers an above average level of technologies and scores well for excellence in execution. Subaru (541) ranks second, followed by Kia (538), Nissan (534), and Ram (520).

See the full ranking below.

The 2020 U.S. Tech Experience Index (TXI) Study is based on responses from 82,527 owners of new 2020 model-year vehicles who were surveyed after 90 days of ownership. The study was fielded February through May 2020.

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