New technologies create headaches for car owners

ANDREW MACLEAN
Last updated 14:34 20/06/2013
New high-tech in-car systems are causing more customer complaints than ever before.
Fairfax Australia

CONFUSING TECHNOLOGY: New high-tech in-car systems are causing more customer complaints than ever before.

Porsche
Reuters
TOP OF THE HEAP: Porsche has ousted Lexus from the top of the J D Power 2013 Initial Quality Survey.

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New car owners are returning to dealerships and reporting problems at a record rate, according to the latest quality report from the USA.

But, despite a spate of high-profile recalls recently, the majority of the problems are related to new technologies that are simply confusing consumers.

The J D Power 2013 Initial Quality Survey, an independent report that ranks vehicles according to the number of faults logged by customers within the first 90 days of ownership, highlighted that almost two-thirds of reported issues are due to the design and functionality of new high-tech systems rather than mechanical malfunctions.

"Automakers are investing billions of dollars into designing and building vehicles and adding technologies that consumers desire and demand, but the risk is that the vehicle design, or the technology within the vehicle, in some cases may not meet customer needs," said David Sargent, vice president of global automotive at J D Power.

"Keep in mind that automakers are trying to design vehicles that appeal to a broad array of consumers, and what works for the majority may not work for all. The successful companies will be those automakers that find a way to give customers the technology they want while at the same time making it sufficiently intuitive so all customers find it easy to use."

The study concluded that many of the problems related to the use of Bluetooth phone connectivity, satellite navigation functionality or voice recognition software, which resulted in an industry average of 113 problems per 100 vehicles - an increase of 9 problems per 100 (PP100) compared to last year.

Porsche ousted Lexus from the top spot in the survey results with 80PP100 with Toyota's luxury arm also beaten by General Motors' truck division, GMC.

Nissan's Infiniti brand was ranked fourth ahead of Chevrolet, Acura, Toyota and Honda with Jaguar dropping from second place in 2012 to ninth while Hyundai was one of the biggest improves, elevating from 18th into the top 10.

Volkswagen remained below the industry average with 120PP100, ahead of Mazda, Subaru and Ford. Nissan, Mitsubishi, Fiat and Toyota's American youth brand, Scion, made up the worst performers.

The survey also ranked vehicles according to their segments with General Motors scooping the pool with eight model awards - predominantly for its large SUV and trucks.

Honda took out the best compact SUV for its CR-V and compact car with its US-built Civic Sedan, Mazda won the sub-compact crown for its Mazda2 and Kia scored top marks for its Sportage in the sub-compact SUV segment, sharing the award with the Buick Encore which shares its underpinnings with the Holden Trax and Opel Mokka that land here in September.

The Toyota Camry continued to cement its reputation taking out the. Best mid-size car award while the Hyundai Genesis was voted the best mid-sized premium car and Lexus' all-new ES, which returns to Australia later this year, was ranked as the best large premium car.

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Despite it being replaced by an all-new model next year, the Mazda MX-5 was ranked as the best compact sports car while Porsche took out the top spots for its Boxster and 911 Carrera as the best premium sports cars.

-Fairfax Media Australia

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