Sunday 25 September 2016

How infotainment is becoming the new bugbear for owners

* Survey puts Skoda top of the 'dependable' list

Published 12/08/2015 | 02:30

Skoda Superb interior - infotainment is increasing in importance for car buyers
Skoda Superb interior - infotainment is increasing in importance for car buyers

It is no longer a matter of a car giving mechanical trouble as such. It is now as much about a car giving technological trouble - mostly by way of their infotainment systems.

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That is the verdict from a new dependability survey by JD Power.

Infotainment systems are not only becoming incredibly sophisticated (and, by extension, complicated) they are viewed nowadays as being nearly as important in a car as its traditional mechanical attributes.

And that comes through in the latest dependability study. It is based on a poll of 13,451 UK motorists who bought a new car between April 2012 and March 2014.

Skoda came out on top and Kia took second place. At the bottom end, owners of Chevrolets seem to have been least happy with the dependability of their cars.

A number - not all - of the big, traditional prestige brands didn't do as well as might have been expected. And that is being put down, in part, to two factors:

* People pay a good deal more for posh cars and, therefore, are less inclined to make allowances and 'forgive' niggles.

* So-called 'cutting-edge' technology in infotainment systems is giving a disproportionate amount of trouble.

Such conclusions are being drawn by senior director of European automotive operations at JD Power, Dr Axel Sprenger.

He says: "Five of the top 11 problems reported were related to technology in this category."

He adds: "As we've seen in studies in the US and other markets, owners' expectations of advanced technology capabilities are growing. And when they have a problem they are disappointed."

That just goes to underline the sort of new challenge that carmakers are facing as the realms of automotive and digital increasingly converge.

JD Power say one of the reasons Skoda is rated so much higher (apart from also making good cars, one presumes) is that the more expensive sister brands, such as Audi and Volkswagen, get technology earlier - before all the bugs have been ironed out.

It's a bit like the old credo that you waited a couple of years to buy a 'new' car so that all the production kinks had been sorted.

Anyway, the latest dependability study ranked car makers on the number of problems per 100 vehicles (PP100) in the last 12 months. The lower the score the greater the reliability.

Skoda had a strong rating of 77 and Kia had 83 - which put them first and second respectively. Chevrolet's was 288.

JD Power also has named the most reliable cars in six categories.

The Suzuki Alto came tops in the city-car segment with the Nissan Juke emerging in the small-car sector and the Kia cee'd taking the compact-car. Honda's Jazz was rated most reliable small MPV, Mercedes' C-class took the mid-sized car award with its E-class the winner in the larger car class.

JD Power say: "While Skoda didn't top any of the individual categories, every one of its models performed above the segment average."

Indo Motoring

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