June 24, 2024

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Owners frustrated when linking phones to vehicles

DETROIT (AP) — Automobile quality rose last year, but glitches in pairing smartphones with infotainment systems frustrated owners more than anything, according to a large U.S. survey of auto owners.

For the first time, a brand from Fiat Chrysler, now Stellantis, ranked No. 1 for having the fewest problems. Ram trucks finished first, followed by another company brand, Dodge, according to the annual survey by J.D. Power. Lexus, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Kia, Genesis, Hyundai, Jeep and Chevrolet rounded out the top 10 brands.

Smartphone connections, mainly linking Android Auto and Apple CarPlay to automobiles, was this year’s top problem. It beat voice recognition as the survey’s No. 1 gremlin for the first time since 2011.


Automakers have been trying to link phones to cars for more than a decade, yet the problem persists, said Dave Sargent, J.D. Power’s vice president of automotive quality. Now it’s the connection to make the Apple and Android systems show up on the vehicle screens, he said.

“People see that their phone works fine by itself, but when they come to connect it to the vehicle, go through the Wi-Fi system, that’s where the problems exist,” Sargent said.

Consumers quickly blame their vehicle, but tech companies are part of the problem and should share some of the burden in solving it, he said. About one-third of vehicles on the market in the U.S. have the ability to link to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and the problem is pervasive with all manufacturers, Sargent said.

Auto and tech companies point the finger at each other, and the consumer is caught in the middle, Sargent said.

Operator error isn’t the problem because all the owners are doing is trying to connect, not use any of the features, he said. “I’m sure the industry will get it figured out, and in a couple years’ time, it will work better,” Sargent said.

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