Many U.S. drivers are ignoring new tech features in cars

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Drivers are steering clear of some new technology in cars, according to a survey released Tuesday, raising questions about whether car makers are moving too quickly to incorporate sophisticated technology.

Carmakers are adding everything from remote car unlocking to self-parking systems in their newest models as they try to make vehicles more connected to the Internet and more automated.

But the 2015 Drive Report from market research company JD Power found that 20 percent of new car owners had still not used approximately half of the technology features available in their vehicles after three months of purchase - the period after which drivers are less likely to adopt new features, researchers say.

The most underused feature was in-vehicle concierge systems that can recommend nearby restaurants or gas stations. It was not used by 43 percent of respondents and followed by mobile routers that turn a car into a Wifi hot spot, unused by 38 percent.

Automatic parking systems were unused by 35 percent of those surveyed, the report found.

That means car makers are spending more and drivers are paying more for potentially unwanted technology bundled into cars.

Drivers, especially those ages 21-38 from Generation Y, are still relying on their smartphones rather than their cars to connect to their favorite apps or search for nearby services.

"Customers say, 'I have a competing technology that's easier to use, or I've already paid for it - so why do I need it again?'" said Kristin Kolodge, executive director of driver interaction at JD Power.

With Google Inc testing a self-driving car and Apple Inc reportedly working on its own version, the fact that 35 percent of new car owners never used their automatic parking systems may come as a surprise.

Kolodge said consumers are keenly focused on the value that each new technology brings and even those that are not duplicated by a smartphone may not be popular. Knowing how to park means that a parking function would be redundant, she said.

"Is it really making it easier? That's where some of the value is being challenged," she said.

The technologies that best resonate with new car owners are blind spot warning systems, parking assistance and collision avoidance systems.

The Drive Report surveyed 4,200 new car owners from April to June.

(Editing by Stephen R. Trousdale and Cynthia Osterman)

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