While most car owners are happy and would purchase their vehicle again, consumer surveys show that there are some people who are frustrated with their ownership experience. Through an exhaustive search of industry reports, press releases, survey results and automotive-related blogs, three common pain points for US consumers related to owning a vehicle were identified — poor car servicing experiences, distracting new car technologies and high costs of maintenance and fuel.
1. Poor Car Servicing Experience
- Many car owners state that servicing their car is one of the most frustrating aspects of owning a vehicle.
- According to a McKinsey automotive industry report, today’s car owners expect a hassle-free vehicle service experience but instead encounter ridiculously high costs and an extended time commitment that is difficult to predict.
- A 2018 Service Industry Study by Cox Automotive found that while it takes approximately 15 hours to buy a new car, the owner spends an additional 50 hours having it serviced over the duration of ownership.
- Significant pain points related to the car servicing experience are centered around a slow digital transformation. These include numerous phone calls to schedule an appointment, waiting times of more than ten minutes when dropping off and picking up vehicles, and a lack of transparencies regarding vehicle readiness and expected costs.
- The 1st Annual Mobility Study by Vision Mobility in 2016 discovered that one in three Americans would avoid owning a vehicle with a main driver being the hassle of vehicle maintenance, ranking its experience alongside the painful root canal procedure.
- Importantly, a McKinsey & Company Future of Automotive Retail survey discovered that 53% of customers find the car servicing experience “very influential” or “influential” when purchasing their next car. Only 48% of consumers found their last buying experience to be influential (see chart below). As such, addressing these issues (or not) is important for car owners when considering future car ownership.
2. New Car Technologies and Lack of Training
- In the past decade, there has been a surge in new technologies to assist drivers and improve road safety, alongside a forward march to more autonomous vehicles.
- Despite the purported benefits of these technologies, the 2020 J.D. Power U.S. Tech Experience Index (TXI) Study found that many new car owners find them annoying or distracting, resulting in a lack of trust in the technologies meant for more automated driving.
- As Kristin Kolodge, Executive Director of Driver Interaction & Human Machine Interface Research at J.D. Power states, “Automakers are spending lots of money on advanced technology development, but the constant alerts can confuse and frustrate drivers,” with the technology seeming like a “nagging parent“.
- Given the wide array of technologies available and methods of implementation/usage across different car brands, drivers want more information about the new and complex systems, preferring some form of training on the proper usage of these systems, however, this is currently not happening.
- The most common technology problems owners face include in-car voice recognition, Bluetooth® connectivity and navigation systems. These problems not only exist at the beginning of car ownership but even after three years of vehicle ownership, according to the J.D. Power 2020 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS).
3. High Ownership Costs
- A 2016 white by Growth for Knowledge (GfK), a market and consumer information firm, found that drivers in the USA associate the cost of driving as a pain point of car ownership.
- Numerous blogs on the challenges of owning a vehicle focus on the frustrations caused by routine maintenance and common auto problems that arise such as worn brake pads or excessive oil consumption.
- Post-purchase costs of ownership that add to an owner’s frustration may include gas, interest on financing, insurance, parking and traffic tickets, that owners do not account for at the time of buying.
- Furthermore, owners of hybrid vehicles, such as the Chevy Volt (90%) and Toyota Prius (89%), report the highest satisfaction with their vehicles according to Consumer Reports, and would purchase these cars again. Notably, hybrid cars are associated with owner savings of an average of $2,849 per year on fuel costs and $401 per year on maintenance expenses.
4. Finding Parking
- Finding parking is usually a time-consuming experience for car owners. According to USA today, U.S. drivers spend an average of 17 hours in a year trying to find parking spots in lots, in garages or on streets. This leads to approximately $345 in wasted fuel, emission and time per driver.
- The situation is even worse for car owners who live in congested cities. In New York City, drivers spend an average of 107 hours a year searching for spots, and this adds up to $2,243 per driver in wasted fuel, emissions and time.
- Most cities have requirements that specify which side of the street a car owner should park on, and on which day. Consequently, people may end up parking far away from the places that they are going to.
- In addition, parking at most places comes at a cost. Car owners usually have to do the due diligence of finding which places have affordable parking rates. Overpaying, as a consequence of failing to estimate how long one should park or paying extra at a garage to avoid parking tickets, costs over $20 billion or $97 per driver every year.
- Consequently, most people choose to save on time and costs by using car services.
5. Car Accidents
- No matter how careful drivers are, they cannot avoid car accidents. In the U.S., on average, there are 6 million car accidents that occur annually.
- Car accidents also come with the additional costs of repair, which may not be covered by insurance or warranties. The auto repair industry is usually associated with a negative experience, and the term “car repair anxiety” is commonly used among car owners. Car owners usually feel like they have two options: to pay high prices for good repair, or to pay affordable prices and ruin their cars.
- The figure below shows car accident statistics in the U.S.