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Mercedes-Benz Has Most Satisfied Shoppers, Says JD Power

Explaining high-tech features critical to increasing shopper satisfaction.

by on Nov.13, 2014

Automakers providing new vehicle buyers with assistance in the use of new technology in their vehicles are seeing customer satisfaction scores rise.

Motorists have come to expect the latest high-tech features in the cars they buy. Ironically, that’s also a frequent cause of customer frustration, buyers struggling to figure out how to pair a phone or plug in a destination.

Manufacturers that hope to keep customers happy – and loyal – need to ensure that product specialists spend time at the showroom explaining how to make that technology work, according to a new study by J.D. Power and Associates. Having the right staff on hand is one of the key reasons why Mercedes-Benz topped Power’s latest Sales Satisfaction Index, or SSI.

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“With such tech-heavy vehicles today, introducing product specialists into the sales process helps improve the delivery process and customer understanding of how to operate key features,” explained Chris Sutton, vice president of the automotive retail practice at J.D. Power. (more…)

Voice Texting Still Dangerous, Warns New Study

“Taking mental concentration off the road.”

by on Apr.23, 2013

Even switching to hands-free texting may not reduce the risk of distracted driving.

Even as more states move to bar motorists from texting while driving, a growing number of automakers have been adding supposedly safer voice-to-text features to their vehicles. But a new study by the Texas Transportation Institute warns that the newer technology is just as likely to leave drivers distracted and at risk of a crash.

Distracted driving is responsible for an estimated 11% of all highway deaths, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and texting is generally seen as one of the worst – and growing — problems. The Texas study cites industry data showing Americans send 6.1 billion text messages a day, and other studies have indicated that a sizable share of U.S. motorists – including a significant majority of younger drivers – text behind the wheel.

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With more and more states barring the use of handheld phones, whether to make a call or to text, the auto industry has been trying to fill the gap with hands-free technology such as Bluetooth calling and new voice-to-text apps.  But despite being billed as a safer alternative, the new study indicates that texting in any form is a dangerous distraction.


Dodge Dart Gets First Factory Wireless Charging System

Chevy, other makers plan to follow.

by on Apr.10, 2012

The new wireless charging system that will be offered on the 2013 Dodge Dart sedan.

This story was revised to correct details about the wireless charging system used in the Dart and by other manufacturers.

If you’ve ever tried to charge up your iPhone or MP3 player only to discover the wire is missing, Dodge has a neat solution it plans to introduce with the upcoming launch of the compact Dart sedan: a wireless charge pad.

The system is similar to devices such as the popular Powermat now available for home use.  And several aftermarket suppliers have been offering similar systems.  But Dodge will be the first to offer a factory wireless charging system – with several other makers, such as Chevrolet, ready to follow.

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Technically, the charging system isn’t exactly a factory system.  It’s being offered by Chrysler’s parts and service division, Mopar, and can be installed at the dealership or at home, note our friends at Autoblog.  But as it’s designed specifically for use in the new Dart, that’s a minor quibble.

“At Mopar, we look for every single opportunity to make our customers’ lives easier,” said Pietro Gorlier, President and CEO of Mopar, Chrysler Group LLC’s service, parts and customer-care brand. “Our industry-first in-vehicle wireless charging system is the perfect solution for those connected customers who are always on the go.”


New Federal Guidelines Could Restrict In-Car Navigation Systems

NHTSA blames distractions for 17% of all crashes.

by on Mar.26, 2012

DoT Sec. Ray LaHood is pressing for a strict crackdown on distracted driving.

As federal regulators move forward on plans to put new distracted driving regulations in place it’s quite possible that future rules would bar the use of in-car navigation systems – at least as we know them today.

In fact, many of the basic features that buyers are coming to expect – and that manufacturers are pushing, much to the delight of their accounting departments – could be severely restricted or even barred entirely.

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Research by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration contends that of nearly 900,000 crashes reported to police in 20, 17% involved some form of distracted driving.  Of that figure, 3%, or 26,000 crashes, involved “a device/control integral to the vehicle,” according to NHTSA.  That could cover anything from a poorly placed switch for an SUV’s rear windshield to the controls for a 14-way power seat.

But much of the focus is on infotainment technology, including such systems as onboard navigation and SMS text messaging.


Ford’s Mulally, Mercedes’ Zetsche to Highlight 2012 CES

Autos and automakers increasingly powerful force at annual consumer electronics show.

by on Oct.24, 2011

Ford CEO Alan Mulally will return to CES in January - though keynote duties will go to Daimler's Chairman Dieter Zetsche.

While the words, “consumer electronics,” are likely to bring to mind an iPhone or widescreen TV, the auto industry is becoming a more and more powerful force in the field as motorists search for technology that will keep them informed and entertained while driving.

That convergence was underscored, in recent years, by Alan Mulally’s three-peat appearance as the keynote speaker at the annual Consumer Electronics Show, held each January in Las Vegas.  The largest trade show in the country will once again turn to a member of the auto industry as keynoter for 2012, but this time to Daimler AG Chairman and Mercedes-Benz boss Dieter Zetsche.  Mulally will be back in Sin City, however, as a member of one of the annual event’s opening panels.

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“Convergence is real,” said Gary Shapiro, president of the Consumer Electronics Association, sponsor of CES, which is expected to draw at least 2,000 exhibitors and 150,000 attendees to Las Vegas next January.  “Innovation,” he stressed, is critical to both the automotive and electronics industries because “growth comes only from innovation.”


Ford May Use Sync to Monitor Motorists’ Health

System could help diabetics, asthma and allergy sufferers.

by on May.19, 2011

Ford is exploring ways for its Sync infotainment system to provide health information, even monitor chronic disease sufferers.

Ford Motor Co. is looking at ways to expand the services available through SYNC, its in-car information and communications system, possibly using the onboard technology to deliver up-to-date medical information to the driver or passengers – even monitoring the health of allergy or chronic disease sufferers.

“This is still a research project,” said Gary Strumolo, the maker’smanager of design and infotronics.  But he said Ford believes a production version of the system could be ready within 12 to 24 months.

Uncovering Hidden Gems!

Strumolo said Ford is using the wireless Bluetooth connectivity of SYNC to link a car to medical providers like Medtronics. The first application could monitor blood glucose level for diabetics and provide them their vital statistics without having to take their hands off the wheel or eyes off the road.

“If you’re a diabetic, certainly you want to have a continuous knowledge of your condition, but it’s particularly critical if you’re driving, because that can affect your ability to drive, and not only endangers you, but others on the road,” he said


OnStar: Half of drivers are not using handsfree

GM begins campaign to help owners learn to use technology.

by on Sep.03, 2010

A study by GM shows only 45 percent of its customers are using features built into the car allowing handsfree calling.

A study by GM subsidiary OnStar shows that only 45 percent of owners of its cars are pairing their phones with their vehicle’s Bluetooth system

“What we’re learning is that many customers simply do not understand the technology, or they’re confused by how to pair their cell phone to a Bluetooth device,” said OnStar President Chris Preuss. “It’s about both educating the customer and alleviating technical challenges.”

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OnStar analyzed random, anonymous data collected from thousands of vehicles. GM says that customers are either unaware of the feature or believe connecting and using Bluetooth to be too difficult a process.

To help, GM has launched a new Web site,, to provide clear instructions on how to pair specific devices. Besides using Bluetooth to connect, most GM cars also allow vehicle owners to use OnStar Hands-Free Calling.

Land Rover SI Sonim Mobile Phone

The latest brand extension sees the addition of a mobile phone that's billed as tough as the SUVs.

by on Jun.17, 2009

Land Rover S1 Phone

S1 is said to be totally impervious to dust, as well as dirt, shocks, drops and temperature extremes.

Land Rover has announced that it has teamed up with Sonim Technologies, to sell the Land Rover S1, claimed to be a rugged mobile phone designed to meet the needs of those who work and play in the great outdoors.

The mobile phone was unveiled by Sir Ranulph Fiennes, fresh from his successful ascent of Mount Everest.

The company says the S1 is the world’s first IP-67 rated GSM mobile phone, and is operational in temperatures ranging from -20 to 55 degrees Celsius. It is backed by an unconditional three-year guarantee.

“When we started making these handsets, there was no standard for how to test and benchmark rugged phones, so we created our own. The Land Rover S1 is tested according to our own ‘Rugged Performance Standard,’ a specific 12-point test to ensure our phones remain of the highest quality and don’t let you down when you need it most,” said Bob Plaschke, CEO of Sonim Technologies.

S1 is totally impervious to dust, as well as dirt, shocks and drops. The S1 is also waterproof to a depth of one meter for up to 30 minutes and is resistant to extreme pressures of up to 400 kilograms, according to Sonim. (more…)