Do Truck Owners/Buyers Care About Cabin Technology Offerings?

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In the past few weeks, two different news stories are shining a light on all the infotainment, navigation and Bluetooth technology features found in new trucks. The quick synopsis is automakers are spending millions to develop these technologies, yet consumers and owners don’t really care.

Do Truck Owners/Buyers Care About Cabin Technology Offerings?

A recent survey says most people don’t regularly use the many different technology features in their vehicle’s cabin.

The first news story is a study from JD Power. Their 2015 Driver Interactive Vehicle Experience report showed 20 percent of new-vehicle owners never used 16 of 33 of the latest technology features.

“In many cases, owners simply prefer to use their smartphone or tablet because it meets their needs; they’re familiar with the device and it’s accurate,” said Kristin Kolodge, executive director of driver interaction and human-machine interface (HMI) research at J.D. Power. “In-vehicle connectivity technology that’s not used results in millions of dollars of lost value for both consumers and the manufacturers.”

The top 5 items not used are: in-vehicle concierge (43%); mobile routers (38%); automatic parking systems (35%); head-up display (33%); and built-in apps (32%).

With customers largely not using the technology offerings anyway, a second, and older news story, should be revisited. This second news story was the hub-bub over the new Toyota Tacoma not offering Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. A rather direct Motor Authority story took Toyota to task for being “different” and not following the industry in turning over their dashboard to these systems. Motor Authority called the move “puzzling” (they are the industry insiders) and “bold.”

While not including these two systems seems a bit odd. It actually makes some sense considering people aren’t using the technology that much anyway – journalists do and that seems to be about it. Also, Apple and Google are both:

  1. Likely to try and force automakers to adhere to specific rules and standards if/when their interfaces become popular, saying “If you want to keep on using our OS, you need to do _____”, a faustian bargain for automakers who are afraid to invest in their own UI’s
  2. Going to monetize the vehicle’s data (when it’s driven, where, how fast, etc.) to build their respective empires, not to mention that this data will also help with the modeling they’re doing for the cars they’re both developing because…
  3. Both are actively working to build electric cars which – when fully capable – will probably be presented as an alternative to buying an automobile, eg “Why buy a new Toyota when you can rent an autonomous Google/Apple car anytime you want?”
  4. Have a mixed record when it comes to UI. Apple is great, but their in-car systems haven’t really shined. Android’s UI is mediocre on any device.
Then, there’s the fact that Toyota has a long, distinguished record when it comes to design and engineering. They built great (albeit uninspired) products. We can’t really argue with their record up to this point. At best, we can find fault with small choices, and even that is hard to do.
Summing up, we think Toyota made a good choice. Getting in bed with Apple and Google right now only makes it easier for them to launch their own EV car companies (and car sharing services) later. We’d pass on that deal too.


Filed Under: Auto News


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  1. Randy says:

    Overall, the approach that Toyota has taken with infotainment has been better than the other three brands. I have had enough experience with the others for a good fair comparison.

    Most companies now have the Bluetooth portion and cell phone integration concurred. It was not that way 10 to 15 years when the bugs were not worked out.

    In the area of navigation combined the free form conversational style voice commands means that virtually all systems are a “go” while driving, and Toyota was the first car company to offer it. Ford might have it next year with Sync 3; but as always that remains to be seen with Ford. So far I have not seen other navigation systems come to that level of finesse. Not even close.

    My 2014 Tundra is now on its third significant improvement with the new “Destination Search” features (released this month). The speed capabilities are improved immensely over the former Bing method.

    IMHO I think a Navigation system that “requires” you to pull over to the side of the road and “requires” you to punch buttons for 30 minutes is virtually “worthless”. In that case why would you even bother? That is the primary reason people “do not” use these systems.

    Unfortunately, most automotive journalists do a very poor job at even evaluating these systems; their lack of experience is evident by large measure.

    I have yet to see a single automotive journalist really test “any” of these systems to the hilt and put them through their paces.

    IMHO neither Apple CarPlay nor Anroid Auto are ready for “prime time” they are simply not refined enough. They still need much improvement on being integrated to the vehicle. I think this is the real reason Toyota selected “not” to use them, at least not at this time.

    Here are the items I use in my Tundra on a regular basis while driving and both hands on the wheel:

    Smartphone integration.
    Navigation (a built in app)
    Traffic Information with route guidance, alerts etc. (a built in app)
    Stock Market Reporting (a built in app)
    Doppler Radar Overlay in bad weather. (a built in app)

    Of course I know nothing about the new Telenav system soon to be released by Toyota. But give me a year with it, and I will be happy to let you know.

  2. GoBig says:

    Considering my truck has manual windows and locks, I don’t really care too much about all the fancy electronics. My Iphone is capable of navigation and music. I would rather pay a few thousand less for a new truck and forego some of the whiz bang stuff.

  3. Travis says:

    I think the same thing will happen to the smart trucks as does all your smart phones,laptops, and most other computer systems. They have tons of features with new apps and software constantly added or improved, but most people only use a small portion of their capabilities.

    For the most part, if my smartphone will talk and let me check my emails, I’m good, and thats coming from someone who works for a telecommunications company!

  4. breathing borla says:

    I think Toyota should invest in the sound quality of their top line system first, the Jbl is poor at best for OEM top of the line system, yes Toyota bass is supposed to come out of the sub.

    Overall I think you should just be able to mirror your smartphone screen on the truck screen as the smartphone apps nav etc work way better than the built in stuff for the truck.

  5. gordich says:

    Short answer? No! A nice stereo, power heated mirrors, cruise control, power windows and tilt/telescoping steering wheel. That would help keep the price down.

    A full locking rear diff is all that is missing from current/past Tundra’s. My 2015 F250 stripped down work truck has one and it is fantastic!

    Thanks for all of the great articles. You always have something interesting to read and I enjoy everyone’s comments…

  6. DJ says:

    I absolutely do, one of the reasons I traded in my 12′ rock warrior, while it was a great looking truck the interior was terrible, no info/nav screen on a 2012 $41k truck? Come on. I know they “updated” the interior but its still last in the class for tech/interior.

    While I would never buy a ford their new F-150 interiors, dash, etc are fantastic.

  7. Bob Easterday says:

    Yes people do use them (or at least want them), else they wouldn’t be checking them off on the order sheet.

    What I like about offerings like CarPlay, is that it puts users in control of their own experience. I can pick and choose those features I want, and ignore those which do not meet my needs. (aka Apple Maps sux)

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