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Entries in Technology (66)



Navigation systems have been around for long enough to have a nostalgia factor.

Prior to navigation systems, maps were useful, as well as knowing how to quickly situate yourself while using a map. Some of the best maps are from MapArt.

Navigation be it in a vehicle or a smart device is appreciably easier to use than any map, since the navigation will immediately situate you, and guide you to your destination. However, you having knowledge of your destination is very useful.

The early navigation systems relied on mapping CD's which required regular updates of the CD's to have current maps. As well the hardware was bulky, often located in the trunk of a car or the cargo area of a utility vehicle.

One thing has not changed, all navigation systems rely on GPS satellites which orbit at 20,000 kms above earth. To locate your position the navigation system must capture a signal from at least 3 satellites. Think about this for a moment. Here you are in your vehicle, capturing signals from 3 satellites orbiting at 20,000 kms to know where you are, and where you are going. Fascinating...while we take it for granted.

The stubby antenna on the roof is capturing GPS signals, satellite radio signals, while you are enjoying uninterrupted music, and know exactly where you are at all times. Pretty cool stuff.

Obvious that every navigation system, although they all tell you your position, and guide you where you want to go, have different features in locating various landmarks.

One more thing

The stubborn old fool driving that insists in absolutely knowing where he is going, asks the younger individual "Are we on the right road, you have been here several times?"....the reply "Don't know, every time I was here I followed the navigation system".

One last thing

The old fool still insists in knowing where he is using his brains, and not relying only on a navigation system. It raises the fun factor of navigating unfamiliar locations.



Are You Tired of the Internet?

Perhaps like us you are weary of most folks that are still talking about the Internet as if its a novelty especially for the auto business.

Twenty years ago the Internet was a novelty, e-mail was a strange medium, digital cameras were new and somewhat clunky. Our thoughts from 9 years ago that still resonate

Back in the day when a dial up modem was the only way to access the Internet, everyone was waiting for the advent of "broadband" to enable livelier web sites and video. Broadband has been around for 10 years if not longer.

Lets not even go to social media, which again has been around for over 5 years.

You have to wonder...Why are there still a ton of folks talking about this as if its a novelty that emerged a few days ago.

All the product information is online, no kidding we knew that 20 years ago for the auto business. Most folks do their due diligence online, find used vehicles online, have shifted from PC's to mobile devices.

We could keep on going and surely know what we are conveying,

If you are in the auto business and an individual brings up the Internet, be cautious, that individual is literally behind the times, is trying to sell you something, and is absolutely missing the current and more important future reality.




How a Driverless Car Sees the Road

If you ever wondered, Chris Urmson of Google provides fascinating answers.




Behind Closed Doors - Revisited

Last year we published "Behind Closed Doors" our thoughts on the relationship between manufacturers, and dealers.

Little has changed the trend that dealer groups are acquiring stand alone (mom and pop) dealers continues, while bigger groups acquire smaller groups. The trend that other investors would follow Warren Buffet in acquiring dealer groups is slowly developing in the US...unless its already a friend that is loking to invest money.

Groups acquiring dealerships in metro areas and viable secondary markets will continue.

Manufacturers love groups, although they bring up covenants and the number of franchises a group can own, they love groups, that have deep pockets to image the brick and mortar, subscribe to a myriad of inititaives. More important "play the game", stay within the process.

The puveyors of technology love groups too, technology is the enabler of groups, starting with the DMS a few decades back.

If you get the feeling that its becoming a "process" you might be correct. The franchise process, the brick and mortar process, the warranty claim process, the parts process, the sales process, the showroom process, the customer satisfaction process, the incentive process, the business office process.

For every process there is technology that permits the measurement, and management of the process.

Then the manufacturer disrupts the process by "pushing" additional inventory.




Winter Tires - Revisited

Its that time of year again, its brisk, its fall, and we all know what is coming our way.

Have you noticed that a few manufacturers are already advertising winter conditions to promote the capabilities of their various "utility" vehicles.

Pundits are getting on the winter tire bandwagon for another season, and perhaps we are doing the same thing again.

While the ongoing discussion of rear, front, all wheel drive endures for another season.

Do you need winter tires?

Whatever vehicle you have, you absolutely need winter tires to avail yourself of the best traction in snow and ice.

With all the technology on modern vehicles...

More so that you need winter tires to reap all the benefits of the technology, from ABS, traction control, stability programs.

You are the traction manager...

Absolutely, not the vehicle, you manage the traction of your vehicle...its that simple.

Seeking more information...

Take a look at our search feature for winter tires.

Winter tires mounted on wheels...

Its the easiest way to go from summer to winter tires, as a gearhead you probably have an hydraulic jack and it can turn into a fun exercise to convert from summer to winter at this time of year.




ECU Tuning

Perhaps you already knew, informative conversation with Dinan...



Actions Are Louder Than Words

By now you surely know that its easy to publish words in 2015, been like that for a while. We always mention to be your own editor , while making a choice in what is published, its transparency or opacity and so on.

At a time when anyone can publish, and transparency is the operative word, we often forget that humans are an old model of a common platform (to use auto terms)...we don't change that much, although some folks would like us to believe differently.

Having been around for a few thousand years you would think that by now we would have an improved understanding of humans. Especially with the communication devices that we access. Augmented by the myriad of pundits, that willingly share opinions, snippets of knowledge, and so on.

One example...

If you are in the retail auto business, you need to understand Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y, Gen Z, have enough technology that half of the folks that work in a dealership could potentially stay home, and business should be a breeze...a walk in the park.

Get this app that plugs in, and it will solve that issue, get that other app it will solve another issue, and so on.

In the meantime in 2015 dealers are closing appreciably less deals in their showrooms that the previous year. Go figure...while everyone has well worn, antiquated answers.

Another example...

Company A just acquired company B, or company C just sold division D, we read about this stuff everyday. The CEO comes out and makes glowing statements about the acquisition, the synergies, the increased reach and cost savings. Or whatever other flavor of the day is popular.

In the meantime this old model on the common human platform endures a litany of corporate verbiage on a grand scale, accompanied by a multitude of platitudes. The capacity of humans to deal in an opaque fashion with other humans is to be admired. Especially at a time when "transparency" is the operative word.

One more example...

In Canada we vote for a new federal government next week, in 2015 there is the regular vote, the strategic vote, the intelligent vote, the researched vote, the old fart vote, the young person vote, we could keep on going.

To have higher voter turn out the one thing you can't do is vote online...go figure.

While the professional pollsters have no clue of what is really going on, even with all the technology that is available.

Reality Check...

In 2015 in many instances our actions are almost opposite to our words, and we collectively create additional bumps when in effect it should be smoother.

We all know about the Internet, we all know about the informed customers, we all know about technology, we all went to the latest summit, and we close less deals in the showroom.

How about the company that was arrogantly selling "clean diesels".




Diagnosing a Car

At times in 2015 its easy to think that you plug into the OBD and all the issues of a vehicle will be diagnosed with a fault code. Its the case when some sort of light turns on in the dash, usually the CEL (check engine light).

Looking at any vehicle there are so many systems, sub systems, that one needs technology to diagnose the technology in the vehicle in a fast efficient manner that is acceptable to the customer.

It also makes life easier for manufacturers in dealing with warranty claims, when the dealer must mention the code, and the manufacturer can request additional information/data regarding the code. Prior to paying a warranry claim.

With all the technology floating around we can easily forget the decades old mechanical components of all vehicles. While overlooking the knowledge base that is required to have a deep understanding of the mechanical components, and their functions.

All vehicles still have tires, wheels, springs be it coil or leaf (pick ups), stabiliser bars, air filters, oil filters, ball joints, steering name a few. This stuff has evolved but not changed in decades.

Which is the reason independant shops performing "under chassis" work are still thriving, and score high in customer satisfaction. Reflect on this for a moment.

At the same time when a purely mechanical issue appears on a vehicle it often stumps the savviest of mechanics.

An example:

A fairly loud mechanical noise appears on a vehicle, its at the same speed as the wheels turning. To make it interesting its intermittent.

Once at the mechanic the car no longer makes a sound, its all normal.

A few weeks later the sound re appears, its loud, as if something is touching a wheel, then goes away.

A couple of weeks pass by, the sound re appears, this time its not going away which is a good thing. Jack up the car, spin the wheel in question, not a sound. Put it back on the ground, the sound is there again fairly loud too.

With all the technology out there, its a mechnical sound, and where the old school mechanical knowledge base engages and kicks in. Its coming from there, only when this happens, and if that happens its not there. Its a process of eliminating the variables.

There is something going on "there" lets see what it is...

With all the technology...some things don't change. You still need to understand, diagnose the mechanical aspect of a vehicle.




Cars Online 2015

The 2015 edition of the yearly Cap Gemini study...

Fascinating to see how some things come back full circle.





Autonomous Vehicles

An informative and thought provoking discussion on AV's

Autonomous Vehicles ("AVs" - sometimes referred to as “self-driving” or “driverless” cars) are developing rapidly and we are getting an increasing number of questions from investors about what they will mean for the auto industry. The excitement around AVs is understandable – 'newcomers' like Google are making bold claims for their AVs, existing OEMs are demonstrating fast-improving prototypes and suppliers are arguing that they can exploit this new opportunity. People are beginning to ask if AVs are going to fundamentally disrupt the conventional auto industry.