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Problems With In-Vehicle Tech Rising, J.D. Power Reports

February 24, 2016

TROY, Mich. — A J.D. Power 2016 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study has found that problems with a vehicle’s audio, communication, entertainment, and navigation (ACEN) have become the most problematic area on most vehicles and are the root of the industry’s 3% year-over-year decline in vehicle dependability.

Issues related to ACEN have increased and represented 20% of customer-reported problems in the study.

“The increase in technology-related problems has two sources,” said Renee Stephens, vice president of U.S. automotive at J.D. Power. “Usability problems that customers reported during their first 90 days of ownership are still bothering them three years later in ever-higher numbers. At the same time, the penetration rate of these features has increased year over year.”

This correlation between the increase in consumer problems with vehicle technology and the decline in consumer perception of vehicle reliability does not bode well for the industry’s shift toward adding more technological features in their vehicles, officials noted.

Reliability remains a critical role in the automotive market, the study showed. More than 50% of owners said reliability was one of the most influential reasons for choosing a specific make. And a growing number of consumers have marked concerns about reliability as a reason they avoided certain vehicles.

“The decline in reliability coupled with a record number of vehicle recalls and safety-related complaints affect consumer confidence,” Stephens said. “Dependability has a direct impact on purchase decisions and brand loyalty.”

Fifty-five percent of people who did not have problems with their vehicle purchased the same brand again. While on the other hand, 41% of people who experienced three or more problems with their vehicle stayed with that same brand.

This year, Lexus ranked highest in vehicle dependability among all nameplates for the fifth straight year. Porsche, Buick, Toyota and GMC followed behind. General Motors received eight segment awards and Toyota earned six.

The 2016 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study is based on responses from 33,560 original owners of 2013 model-year vehicles who have owned the vehicle for three years.

More information about J.D. Power automotive studies can be found at jdpower.com/cars.

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