For the first time at the Telematics Detroit Conference & Exhibition (June 4-5, Novi), Telematics Update has assembled a panel of consumers who have purchased a vehicle in the past 12 months to discover the truth about their connected car experiences.
The session will be moderated by SBD who are about to release a groundbreaking study that aims to provide the most definitive answer yet to the crucial question: What do consumers really think about the Connected Car? During May 2014 SBD benchmarked 7 of the latest OEM infotainment systems in the USA offered by Chrysler, Nissan, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and Tesla. In collaboration with Morpace, SBD also recruited almost 50 consumers to test the systems and share their opinions. The official results will be announced live on stage at Telematics Detroit.
Project Director, Justin Parker, commented “This session presents a rare opportunity for the auto telematics community. They will get to hear directly from the people that really matter; the car buying public. What better way is there to inform your strategy for 2014 and beyond?”
Here is an early glimpse into how consumers reacted to the different systems in order to highlight some of the common misconceptions within the industry relating to in-car infotainment systems:
Misconception #1: "If an app is popular outside of the car, then consumers must want it inside the car"
The Reality: When we demonstrated various in-car apps and services in each car, participants of our consumer clinics reacted with a mixture of awe, confusion, concern and sometimes even outright anger. However, we rarely heard consumers state that a particular feature was an absolute "Must-Have". The most popular feature by far was Google search through the in-car navigation system, which 54% of participants reacted very positively to. Google Search is already being implemented by many OEMs, but out of all the Google-enabled navigation systems we have tested, not a single one of them matches the Google experience that consumers have grown accustomed to on their smartphones. In cars, Google search functionality is often hidden deep within unexpected menus, and load-times are typically 20-to-30 times longer than searching via a smartphone. Additionally, in-car systems rarely provide the contextual depth that Google searches on smartphones provide, leaving consumers puzzled as to why they are being recommended a Pizza restaurant that is 30 miles away compared to one they know is located around the corner. Similar problems occur across most of the other apps that OEMs are rushing to launch (e.g. Pandora, Facebook, Yelp, etc). The lesson from this? Consumers will only want apps in the car if they provide the same level of simplicity, convenience and speed that apps on their smartphones provide. If they don't, then OEMs are simply wasting time and resources developing features that will rarely be used.
Misconception #2: "CarPlay will be the answer to all consumer needs"
The Reality: Although Apple CarPlay was announced at the 2014 Geneva Motorshow, at the time of our clinics in the US there were still no systems available for our consumer panels to test. So instead we showed them various videos of how the system works. What followed was an interesting combination of expected and unexpected reactions. The expected reactions came from existing iPhone users, who generally liked the idea of using a familiar interface developed by a company that they have grown to trust. Some even felt that the familiarity of the interface would make the system safer to use whilst driving, even if the functionality of the system was greater. But alongside those positive emotions came a barrage of concern and confusion, not all logical but certainly all relevant for OEMs that are currently developing CarPlay-based head units. The most common concerns were around data costs and compatibility, but there were also various consumers that were concerned about what kind of personal data would be shared with the car. Most importantly, when asked how CarPlay compared to many of the other systems they tested, a significant proportion of both iPhone and non-iPhone users ranked CarPlay below at least one of the other systems. CarPlay is unlikely to be a silver bullet for satisfying consumer needs in the car, and depending on how it is implemented and marketed it could even lead to various new challenges and uncertainties for consumers.
Misconception #3: "Infotainment systems rarely affect consumer purchasing decisions"
The Reality: Every consumer has their own unique list of priorities when choosing a new car, and it is true that infotainment systems rarely rank at the top of that list. However, particularly poor or particularly competitive systems do have the ability to change people's perception of a brand in a good way or a bad way. We experienced both extremes during our recent clinic. 83% of consumers who tested the HondaLink Next Generation were unable to complete basic tasks without the support of one of our experts, and 69% later claimed that their negative experience meant they would be less likely to buy a Honda Civic if it was fitted with HondaLink. In contrast, most participants were pleasantly surprised by the Nissan Connect system, and as a direct result of their experience 52% said they would be more likely to buy the model specifically because of their positive experience using the system. Infotainment may never be the primary decision factor for choosing a car, but getting it badly wrong when designing your system will cost you customers, whilst getting it right will inevitably lead to greater brand loyalty.
Interested in learning more?
SBD will be presenting more insights from its USA Usability Benchmarking report during the upcoming Telematics Detroit conference, where attendees will also have the opportunity to test the systems themselves and speak to our experts about our unique methodology. SBD and Morpace will also be inviting back some of the consumers to join a live panel session, where they will have the opportunity to talk more about what excited or frustrated them when testing the systems. To arrange a meeting with any of our experts, please contact us.
Telematics Detroit 2014 is set to explore the crucial topics that are revolutionizing the telematics industry. Take a look at the complete agenda here: www.telematicsdetroit.com 
Audi said of the show: ‘The biggest gathering of “connected services professionals” in north america continues to grow every year, presenting unparalleled learning and networking opportunities for freshmen as well as senior classmen in the industry!’
For the complete Telematics Detroit 2014 conference program and speaker line-up, access the e-brochure at telematicsupdate.com/detroit/conference-event-brochure or contact the Telematics Update team at email@example.com 
Register for one of the remaining conference passes here: https://secure.telematicsupdate.com/detroit/register.php 
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