Dealer Wes Lutz Offers Unvarnished Truth on What Colleagues Face with Connected Cars

by Jon LeSage

Over 50% of the pop­u­la­tion has smart phones – every day, cus­tomers are com­ing in and ask­ing about telem­at­ics and con­nect­ed cars, and what they had to offer, said Wes Lutz, own­er of Extreme Dodge Chrysler Jeep in Jack­son, Mich. Ford start­ed adver­tis­ing their Sync sys­tem in their vehi­cles a few years ago, which had a major impact on con­nect­ed car tech­nol­o­gy enter­ing the US auto mar­ket. Lutz will be par­tic­i­pat­ing on a pan­el dis­cus­sion on this top­ic with oth­er deal­ers at Telem­at­ics Detroit 2013.

Here’s a few key points Lutz made:

  • All the OEMs are doing exten­sive train­ing with their deal­ers – they need to know how to pair the phones and answer ques­tions.
  • Chrysler deal­ers start­ed see­ing a great sys­tem that Fiat brought over – in 2011, eight-inch touch screens were show­ing up in new Chrysler vehi­cles, Lutz said. That was a big turn­ing point because the con­nec­tiv­i­ty is real­ly good. When cus­tomers come in for a test dri­ve, they sync their phone into a car for a dri­ve, and it’s a great sell­ing point.
  • One prob­lem is that there are 17 deal­er sys­tems providers (DSP) in the US – there are stan­dards, but not uni­form stan­dards between the con­nec­tiv­i­ty between those DSPs and the man­u­fac­tur­ers.
  • All the man­u­fac­tur­ers have dif­fer­ent pro­to­col for deal­ers to com­mu­ni­cate. It hasn’t been a real­ly well coor­di­nat­ed sys­tem to this point. He thinks it’s get­ting bet­ter since everyone’s archi­tec­ture is becom­ing more open. But deal­ers are at the mer­cy of what their spe­cif­ic man­u­fac­tur­ers want them to do, and they all have dif­fer­ent in-house busi­ness sys­tems. It’s not a very well-coor­di­nat­ed oppor­tu­ni­ty, from a dealer’s stand point.
  • The cor­ner could be turned when man­u­fac­tur­ers can say to a deal­er – this con­nec­tiv­i­ty will ben­e­fit you and your cus­tomers in your ser­vice depart­ment.
  • If the automak­er can noti­fy the deal­er that there’s a ser­vice to per­form for a recall, an oil change, or anoth­er ser­vice, they’ll see a big turn with deal­ers since they see the val­ue propo­si­tion there.
  • Lutz will be par­tic­i­pat­ing on a pan­el dis­cus­sion on this top­ic with oth­er deal­ers Telem­at­ics Detroit 2013. One per­spec­tive they’ll be shar­ing with the telem­at­ics indus­try is bridg­ing the com­mu­ni­ca­tion gap between deal­ers and man­u­fac­tur­ers on mak­ing con­nect­ed cars work well. Deal­ers are the end users who have to roll this out to con­sumers, so you can expect to hear some unvar­nished truth from deal­ers.

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