30 Oct
Are drivers really utilising entertainment and connectivity features when they get behind the wheel?

Is in-vehicle technology really that important?

Fleet managers have a host of factors to consider when choosing vehicles for their drivers. Efficiency will likely feature highly, especially if they're to get the most from any fuel card purchases, while safety is also a priority.

Some will even put emphasis on in-vehicle entertainment, but is it really that important? While many fleet drivers may rely on satellite navigation systems to do their jobs most effectively, are the myriad connected vehicle technologies, Bluetooth systems and multimedia features really worth the outlay?

Twenty per cent of drivers never use nearly half of the interactive features available.

A lack of importance

Well, research collated by J.D Power suggested that most drivers don't make full use of the technologies within their vehicles. Around 1 in 5 of the survey's sample explained that they'd never used 16 of the 33 features that were measured.

"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 & HMI research at J.D. Power.

Ultimately, there's the financial fallout to consider here. Not only are vehicle manufacturers pouring time, effort and resources into developing these features that aren't being utilised, innovative technologies also add to the overall cost of the vehicle itself.

Careful consideration

Naturally, there's a balance to be struck. Fleet managers need to be selective in finding the right vehicles and ensuring that their drivers can get the job done, but overspending will quickly hurt the business from a financial point of view. Systems that go unused simply aren't cost effective.

"In-vehicle connectivity technology that's not used results in millions of dollars of lost value for both consumers and the manufacturers," explained Ms Kolodge.

Many drivers don't use the entertainment and connectivity features manufacturers are endeavouring to fit to vehicles.Many drivers don't use the entertainment and connectivity features manufacturers are endeavouring to fit to vehicles.

Added costs

There are other external factors to think about when pursuing a vehicle with top of the line entertainment and connectivity features. Fully loaded cars, vans and trucks tend be more expensive to insure. In fact, research from Moneysupermarket.com found that satellite navigation systems and car phone kits can add 13 and 12 per cent to premiums respectively.

While a survey from Accenture found that many drivers are looking for advanced safety features, pure entertainment systems may not be as important as some quarters may believe.

There's no denying that it should be a priority to keep drivers occupied and well-catered for behind the wheel, but fleet managers need to consider whether any of the extra features they end up shelling out for will actually be used from day-to-day.