BOSTON: Car manufacturers may need to rethink their approach to in-car connectivity as new research shows consumers are frustrated with existing touchscreen and voice-based in-car systems which are lagging behind mobile devices.

The In-vehicle UX (IVX) group at Strategy Analytics surveyed consumers in the US, Western Europe and China for the 2017 Connected Car: Consumer Expectations Clashing with Reality report.

It found that that while demand for connected apps continues to rise, consumers are increasingly irritated by the poor execution of apps using an in-car HMI (human-machine interface).

At least half of consumers in all markets felt it was at least somewhat important to be able to access smartphone apps through their car's HMI, while those in Western Europe and China showed greatest interest in accessing smartphone apps through an on-board speech recognition system.

In all markets, key segments considered embedded access to connected apps to be very important to their purchase decision.

And even if current offerings fall short, consumers strongly indicated their desire to access connected apps through their vehicle's controls and displays.

Another issue is how to pay for connectivity. The vast majority of consumers in the US and Western Europe preferred a mobile-device-based method for both access and payment. But in China, and in some segments of Western Europe, support appeared relatively strong for car-based accounts for mobile data.

“These trends are concerning on multiple levels,” said Derek Viita, report author and Senior Analyst “Automakers are not providing compelling in-car solutions for connected features; and because the mobile device provides a better experience, consumers are tempted into dangerous habits such as use of mobile handsets while driving.”

Chris Schreiner, Director, Syndicated Research at Strategy Analytics’ User Experience Innovation Practice, added that there are “plentiful benefits” if consumers can be persuaded of the value of moving their data connection from their device to their vehicle.

“Numerous value-adds for consumer relationship management can be provided, a wealth of usage data can be opened up to the automaker, and the in-car internet provider can offer even more benefit through additional safety or diagnostic features,” he said.

“OEMs and suppliers must consider this consumer demand for on-board connectivity not as a problem, but as an opportunity,” he added. “Their success may actually depend on it.”

Data sourced from Strategy Analytics; additional content by WARC staff