Tesla's app was by far the highest rated. Among combustion engine vehicles, the Volvo app worked best, said Frank Hanley, J.D. Power's senior director of global automotive consulting.
Many applications still lack features that owners desire, such as navigation assistance and remote controls. The most common complaint was that apps run too slowly and thus are not worth using, Hanley said.
Many owners also asked for apps to implement status information, such as informing the owner if their windows are locked or doors left open.
"People want a one-stop shop to find out all the information about their cars," Hanley said.
There was a large increase in software issues in 2021 compared with 2020, he said. Some of the apps that offer status information, for example, told users the wrong information.
Several vehicles could not connect with apps when used in Android phones, Hanley said.
"The manufacturers are having a hard time keeping up with new software and making sure the apps keep up with them," Hanley said.
The study found that dealerships remain an integral part of setting up apps for users, as drivers still have difficulty navigating them on their own.
"The biggest thing is creating a holistic app usage experience for customers. The [automakers] really are not hitting on those key performance indicators of speed, functionality and ease of use," Hanley said. "They are really bad for customers right now, and they definitely need to improve in those areas for sure if they are going to make a go with these apps."