Nissan signal blocker to help motorists driven to distraction by mobile phones

The Nissan Juke feature can eliminate distractions caused by incoming calls, messages and social media notifications
The Nissan Juke feature can eliminate distractions caused by incoming calls, messages and social media notifications

A car manufacturer has developed a compartment that blocks mobile phone signals.

Nissan says the prototype Signal Shield, built into the arm rest of its Juke crossover vehicle, will eliminate distractions caused by incoming calls, messages and social media notifications.

The box works on the principle of the Faraday cage – invented in the 1830s – which uses material such as a wire mesh to shield its contents from electromagnetic fields.

All mobile, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi signals are prevented from reaching inside the compartment once the lid is closed.

Penalties and fines for illegal phone use by drivers doubled to six points and £200 on March 1 following a series of high-profile cases and research suggesting the practice is widespread.

Nissan Motor GB managing director Alex Smith said: “Mobile phone use at the wheel is a growing concern across the automotive industry, and indeed society, particularly with the high number of pushed communications such as texts, social media notifications and app alerts that tempt drivers to reach for their devices.

“The Nissan Signal Shield concept presents one possible solution for giving drivers the choice to remove all smartphone distractions while driving. This is about delivering more control at the wheel, not less.

“Some drivers are immune to the activity of their smartphone, but for those who struggle to ignore the beeps and pings, this concept provides a simple solution in this very connected world we live in.”

An RAC survey of more than 1,700 UK motorists found that the proportion who admit to using a hand-held phone behind the wheel increased from 8% in 2014 to 31% last year.

In October, lorry driver Tomasz Kroker was jailed for 10 years after killing a woman and three children by ploughing into their stationary car while distracted by his phone on the A34 near Newbury, Berkshire.

Twenty-two people were killed and 99 seriously injured in accidents on Britain’s roads in 2015 where a motorist using a mobile was a contributory factor, Department for Transport figures show.

RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams said: “Our research shows that hand-held phone use by drivers has reached epidemic proportions.

“As mobile phone technology has advanced significantly, many people have become addicted to them. However, the use of a hand-held phone when driving represents both a physical and mental distraction and it has been illegal since 2003.

“The Nissan Signal Shield is a good example of a technology that can help drivers be phone smart.

“For those who can’t avoid the temptation, this simple but pretty clever tech gives them a valuable mobile-free zone.”

Read more: http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/business/news/nissan-signal-blocker-to-help-motorists-driven-to-distraction-by-mobile-phones-35676292.html

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Nissan develops signal blocker for mobile phones

Victorian invention, 21st century application. Nissan has adopted a technology that’s almost 200 years old to create a concept solution for reducing smartphone distraction at the wheel.The beauty of the design is its simplicity. The Nissan Signal Shield is a prototype compartment within the arm rest of a Nissan Juke that is lined with a Faraday cage, an invention dating back to the 1830s. Once a mobile device is placed in the compartment and the lid closed, the Nissan Signal Shield creates a ‘silent zone’, blocking all of the phone’s incoming and outgoing cellular, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections.

The concept is designed to give drivers a choice about whether to eliminate the distractions caused by the millions of text messages, social media notifications and app alerts that are ‘pushed’ to smartphones each day. A growing problem, the number of drivers admitting to handling their phone in the car has increased from 8% in 2014 to 31% in 2016, according to the RAC.

Users are becoming habitually more tempted to check text messages and notifications as they appear on their phone’s screen, even if they are driving. Nissan’s own research found almost one in five drivers (18%) admitted to having texted behind the wheel.

All Nissan crossovers are available with Bluetooth connectivity to allow drivers to make and receive hands-free phone calls when it is safe to do so.

NissanConnect, or Apple CarPlay on the all-new Nissan Micra, enable further integration with a phone’s apps.

The Nissan Signal Shield concept provides optional connectivity, giving drivers the choice between being able to contact and be contacted from the road, or creating a ‘phone-free’ space and time. It means a digital detox and a drive that’s free of incoming distractions. If drivers want to listen to music or podcasts stored on their smartphone, they can still connect to the car’s entertainment system via the USB or auxiliary ports. The device will maintain wired connectivity even when in the Nissan Signal Shield compartment.

To restore the phone’s wireless connections, drivers just need to open the arm rest to reveal the compartment – which can be done without taking eyes off the road or touching the phone itself – and the phone can reconnect with the mobile network and the car’s Bluetooth system. The innovation works on the principle of the Faraday cage, an enclosure made of a conductive material, such as wire mesh, which blocks electromagnetic fields. It is named after the pioneering English scientist Michael Faraday, who invented it in the 1830s.

When an electronic device, like a smartphone, is placed inside, any incoming electromagnetic signals – such as cellular or Bluetooth data – are distributed across the cage’s external conducting material and so prevented from reaching the device. Alex Smith of Nissan said; “Nissan produces some of the safest cars on the road today, but we are always looking at new ways to improve the wellbeing of our customers. Mobile phone use at the wheel is a growing concern across the automotive industry, and indeed society, particularly with the high number of ‘pushed’ communications, such as texts, social media notifications and app alerts that tempt drivers to reach for their devices.

“The Nissan Signal Shield concept presents one possible solution for giving drivers the choice to remove all smartphone distractions while driving. This is about delivering more control at the wheel, not less. Some drivers are immune to the activity of their smartphone, but for those who struggle to ignore the beeps and pings, this concept provides a simple solution in this very ‘connected’ world we live in.”

RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams said: “Our research shows that handheld phone use by drivers has reached epidemic proportions. As mobile phone technology has advanced significantly many people have become addicted to them. However, the use of a handheld phone when driving represents both a physical and mental distraction and it has been illegal since 2003.

Read more: http://www.galwayindependent.com/motoring/topics/articles/2017/05/10/4139696-nissan-develops-signal-blocker-for-mobile-phones/

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Nissan kicks off new UEFA Champions League campaign

Nissan has kicked off a new campaign that offers UK fans the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to attend the UEFA Champions League Final on 3rd June 2017 with football legend David Ginola. The #GetThereWithGinola campaign aims to create a unique experience that extends the reach of Nissan’s partnership of the UEFA Champions League beyond traditional ticket give-aways.

Image result for nissan

The new campaign challenges entrants to submit the most original and ambitious entries with suggestions including baking a football stadium cake, wearing a football kit to a work meeting or penning a football limerick about the UEFA Champions League. Submissions can be made through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with the #GetThereWithGinola hashtag.

With a number of global brands sponsoring this year’s UEFA Champions League, Nissan was keen to standout by offering a money-can’t-buy experience that creates deeper engagement with football-mad consumers. To help drive exposure and engagement among the target audience, the campaign brings on board the former French international midfielder, David Ginola. Despite reaching the semi-finals with Paris St-Germain in 1995, Ginola, named ‘el Magnifico’ by the Spanish media, never played in a UEFA Champions League Final, and the competition enables entrants to join him in finally experiencing the pinnacle of European club football.

Chris Marsh, Marketing Director Nissan Motor GB comments: “We wanted to use our sponsorship of the UEFA Champions League in a different and creative way that would excite UK football fans ahead of this year’s final in Cardiff. By offering a truly unique prize – winning the chance to go to the Final with the football legend Ginola, we’re able to give our fans unexpected access to Nissan’s UCL sponsorship.”

Nissan has created a short video featuring David Ginola to mark the opening of the competition that will be shared through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Read more: https://www.automotiveworld.com/news-releases/nissan-kicks-new-uefa-champions-league-campaign-gettherewithginola/

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€15 million allocated by Government for Cork docklands development

Major investment in Cork’s docks are needed, not only by that city, but by Ireland too, writes Seán Kearns.

As Port of Cork sets off in the sunset, new dawns await for the city’s quays.

As part of a concerted effort by the Government to tackle the housing crisis, the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Simon Coveney TD, has announced the details for a special housing infrastructure fund.

The Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund (LIHAF) provides funding for local authorities in the sum of €224 million to be financed on a 75%/25% basis between the exchequer and local authorities.

The fund is intended to unlock zoned lands for housing that are currently held up by infrastructural deficits such as lack of suitable road access, high voltage lines, drainage and transport links.

It is noteworthy but not unexpected that the majority of the funding (€112m) is targeted at the Dublin local authorities where the greatest need for housing is identified.

The second level of funding goes to Cork City Council and Cork County Council which is allocated €46m.

The remainder is allocated to Limerick, Waterford and the Dublin region commuter counties.

I believe that this funding approach is an example of how the Government can go some of the way to establishing a national regional balance in recognition of Corks importance in the future planning development of the country.

We have had previous attempts at regional planning that were highly politicised such as Charlie McCreevy’s decentralisation plans and the National Spatial Strategy (NSS) 2020 which took the Late Late Show approach to planning with a plethora of “gateways” and “hubs” that delivered one for everyone in the audience.

These approaches were scattered, unfocussed and were based on constituency rather than planning needs. This NSS plan was published in 2002 and since then Dublin has grown enormously and the regional towns and cities have declined.

In February this year, the Minister launched a consultation paper for a new national planning framework, ‘Ireland 2040 — Our Plan’.

The document lays out the current status quo whereby the Dublin City Region accounts for 40% of the population and 49% of economic output.

By comparison, The London metropolitan area, a global city of 14 million people, contains 22% of the UK’s population and accounts for 32% of its GDP.

Other countries of similar population size and economic profile to Ireland (Denmark, New Zealand, Scotland, and Finland) also have large city regions that dominate their population and economic output.

However, Ireland, by comparison, has become effectively a single city state depending on the capital to drive economic growth.

The growth of Dublin has been phenomenal over the last 30 years, and is most welcome as it is necessary to have a city with a large enough population to drive economic activity with a diverse population and a concentration of physical and human infrastructure.

However, Dublin has effectively sprawled into the neighbouring counties creating dormitory towns throughout Leinster, and is facing housing and infrastructural bottlenecks to such an extent that the 2040 plan consultation document raises concerns about the future competitiveness of the Dublin region.

Cork city, the second largest city in the state, has had growth levels consistently below the national average and, according to the 2016 census, now has a population of 125,000 people within the city boundaries.

This compares not too favourably to a 1967 population of 122,000.

When compared to the national growth rate over the last 50 years, Cork has effectively reduced significantly in size and is only a competitor to Dublin, a city over 10 times its size, in imagination rather than reality.

By comparison, the population of Cork County has grown significantly to 417,000. While the population of Cork city has declined in recent years, the population of the commuter towns surrounding the city have boomed in population.

Essentially, Cork County Council has been drawing people, investment, and government infrastructural spending away from the city centre, and the proposed amalgamation of Cork City and County Council as outlined in the 2016 Smiddy Report will, I believe, exacerbate this urban decline.

Due to vociferous opposition by senior politicians in Cork, the Smiddy Report has been directed by the Minister to be examined by an expert advisory group, chaired by the former chief planner for the Scottish Government, Jim McKinnon.

We await the result of this deliberation with bated breath as the future of Cork city will be decided here.

The future of Cork city is of national as well as regional importance. It has been a regional centre for centuries for the agricultural and maritime industry.

From 1917 to the mid-1980s, it was the centre of Ireland’s automotive industries based around the Ford and Dunlop factories in the Cork Docklands.

Read more: http://www.irishexaminer.com/property/15-million-allocated-by-government-for-cork-docklands-development-448979.html

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1917 – 2017: Ford celebrates 100 years in Ireland

1917 - 2017: Ford celebrates 100 years in Ireland

Actor Aidan Quinn in the advertisement for Ford

It is exactly 100 years since Henry Ford established the Ford factory on the Marina in Cork city, and Ford Ireland plans to mark the centenary through a number of exciting initiatives in 2017.

Ford has launched an extensive and impactful new marketing campaign based around the company’s Irish centenary.  Irish-American actor Aidan Quinn features in a campaign which is already becoming familiar to Irish motorists.

Continue reading below…

There are many activities, promotions and events planned throughout the year, with one of the highlights being a Gala Dinner Event at City Hall on April 21 to mark the actual centenary.

Commenting on the centenary, Ciarán McMahon, Chairman and Managing Director of Ford Ireland, said: “Ford has a unique heritage in Ireland, not only through the company’s close family links with Cork but also through the Cork Ford factory and of course many decades of much-loved Ford cars and vans on Irish roads.  And we are still to the forefront in the automotive sector in Ireland with the widest network of dealers, providing employment, directly and indirectly, to some 1,000 people across the country”.

“Ford vehicles were and still are an ubiquitous sight on the streets and roads of Ireland all through the 20th century and right up to the present day,” Mr. McMahon went on.  “The brand’s constant popularity meant that almost every Irish person grew up with a Ford car in the family or had aunts, uncles and neighbours who drove a Ford.”

“The factory is sadly no more, but Ford remains one of the best-selling brands in both the car and van market in Ireland,” he added. “Several of our models including the Fiesta, Focus and Transit are segment leaders while the all new Mustang is in a class of its own.

“The company is also looking to the future as we plan for the next century of business in Ireland,” said the Ford Ireland chief. “Ford is the company with the largest test fleet of autonomous driving vehicles in the world, and in 2017 we will start testing autonomous vehicles across Europe.  The company is moving from traditional vehicle manufacture to being a smart mobility solutions provider as we tackle the global mobility challenges of the 21st century.”

 

Ford Family Roots in Cork

The Ford Motor Company was set up in Michigan by Henry Ford in 1903. True to his roots, just 14 years later Henry opened the first purpose-built Ford factory to be located outside of North America at the Marina in Cork.

Henry’s father, William Ford, emigrated from Ballinascarty in Co. Cork (50km from Cork City) with his parents and siblings in 1847 during the Famine; Henry was born in Michigan in 1863.  Growing up on the family farm, Henry developed a strong interest in mechanics. At first, he concentrated his efforts on making work easier for farmers but he soon came to realise the potential of the motor car as a force for good for the development of societies across the globe.  Although he cannot be credited with inventing the motor car, Henry Ford was the man who brought motoring to the masses: the affordable yet rugged vehicles he was producing through his newly invented production-line manufacturing technique – which has since been copied by practically every vehicle and machinery manufacturer across the globe.

‘Bringing it all back home’ – Ford factory established in Cork 1917

When it came time to expand the business to Europe, there is no doubt that Henry’s Cork roots played an important part in his decision to open a plant in Cork.  In his own words, he hoped that the new Ford plant ‘would start Ireland along the road to industry’.  The setting up of the Ford plant in Cork was the first example of foreign direct investment in Ireland, many decades before the term was even coined.

The company that he legally established was entitled Henry Ford & Son Ltd. and that continues to be the legal name of Ford in Ireland to this day – the only Ford entity in the world to include the full name of the company’s founder in its title.

When the Cork Ford plant became fully operational, Europe was just emerging from a catastrophic World War and Communist Russia was in the midst of a huge modernisation programme so tractors were the vehicles that were most urgently needed.  The Fordson tractor was the main product produced by the Cork plant, which in 1929 became the largest tractor factory in the world.  However, the factory also produced passenger models, including the iconic Model T. Indeed, the last Model T ever produced by Ford anywhere in the world rolled off the Cork factory production line in December 1928.

In addition to the Model T, the Cork factory also produced all the other main Ford vehicles that were sold in Europe from the 30s right up to the 70s and 80s including the Model A, Model BF and Model Y; Prefect; Anglia; Escort; Cortina; and Sierra.

With Ireland’s accession to the EEC in 1973, Ireland had to comply with new rules that lifted the previous restrictions on imports of fully built motor vehicles into the country; this, combined with a depressed car market in the late 1970s and early 1980s meant that the plant became no longer viable and, regrettably, it closed its doors in 1984.

In the intervening years, Ford has continued to be a strong player on the automotive scene in Ireland and the company has the widest network of dealers in the country with 52 dealerships.

Read more: http://www.leinsterleader.ie/news/motoring-news/234386/1917-2017-ford-celebrates-100-years-in-ireland.html

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Berlin’s Frontier Car Group lands $22M to disrupt emerging markets car sales

European founders, adept at launching startups which cross many international borders are fast ganging a reputation for launching in emerging markets. In countries where markets are often still very chaotic, there remains a host of opportunities.

That’s evidenced by the news today that the Frontier Car Group, which builds and runs marketplaces for used cars in emerging markets, has closed a $22 million investment, which was co-led by Balderton Capital, EchoVC+ and TPG/Satya. Also included was NEA, Partech Ventures and “a few large global family offices” according to their statement.

Frontier now has operations in Chile, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Turkey but operates out of Berlin, with 200 employees. It’s going to use the cash to expand into Chile, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan and Turkey.

In a statement Sujay Tyle, co-founder and CEO of Frontier said: “The automotive sales sector is fundamentally broken in top-tier emerging markets around the world. Despite massive consumer demand, there is no good way for people to sell their cars efficiently for a fair price. Our vision is to reinvent how the used automotive sales sector works in global emerging markets through technology and infrastructure creation.”

Daniel Waterhouse, general partner at Balderton Capital said: “The cofounders have a clear vision for the future of automotive sales and are leading a Berlin-based team who have developed a technical solution and operational model that allows the company to scale effectively at great speed.”

Waterhouse met Tyle at a tech conference in Dublin when he was 17 and had already graduated from Harvard at 15 and built an enterprise that helped children with curable blindness to see again. Tyle was on the founding team and COO of Hired.com, based in the USA.

Founded by Tyle, Peter Lindholm and Andre Hussman. Lindholm was an investment manager at Millicom and helped Rocket Internet globally in operations and strategy. Hussman was director of engineering at Auto1 in Berlin.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2017/05/23/berlins-frontier-car-group-lands-22m-to-disrupt-emerging-markets-car-sales/

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Infiniti arrives in Northern Ireland as new outlet opens in Belfast

Infiniti arrives in Northern Ireland as new outlet opens in Belfast

INFINITI opened its first retail store in Northern Ireland today.

The opening of the new centre – in Belfast – demonstrates the continuous growth of the brand in the UK and across Europe.

The introduction of Infiniti Centre Belfast brings with it a new partner to the brand: Mervyn Stewart Ltd, which is investing in an all-new site in Boucher Crescent.

Stephen Stewart

Stephen Stewart

The family-run business, which has been operating in Northern Ireland for more than 50 years, will design the premises to tie in with Infiniti’s customer experience standards known as IREDI – Infiniti’s Retail Environment Design Initiative.

The new site is expected to be completed in early 2017 but will initially operate from one of Infiniti’s unique temporary retail sales environments, specifically designed to accommodate a development phase.

Managing director Stephen Stewart from Mervyn Stewart Limited said: ‘We are very pleased to introduce the premium brand of Infiniti to Northern Ireland.

‘I am sure our customers will enjoy not only the exciting range of products on offer but also the environment and experience we will provide.’

Since the introduction of the British-built Q30 earlier this year and the more recent QX30, Infiniti’s new car registrations in the UK have been dramatically increasing month-on-month. Sales so far in 2016 have increased by nearly 150 per cent.

Barry Beeston, regional director for Infiniti in the UK, said: ‘Infiniti is now well on its way to establishing itself within the UK automotive industry as a challenger brand.

‘Increased sales have placed the company as one of the fastest growing automotive brands in the UK. Expansion of the centre network is an important part of our growth strategy and the opening of Infiniti Centre Belfast allows our brand reach to go further than ever before.’

Read more: http://cardealermagazine.co.uk/publish/infiniti-arrives-northern-ireland-new-outlet-opens-belfast/124899

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Galway researchers in push to make autonomous cars safer

Dr Edward Jones and Dr Martin Glavin, of the Connaught Automotive Research, with Liam Kilmartin, college of engineering and informatics, NUI Galway and Valeo’s automated parking R&D director Derek Savage: the groups have teamed up to develop technology to make self-driving vehicles safer

Dr Edward Jones and Dr Martin Glavin, of the Connaught Automotive Research, with Liam Kilmartin, college of engineering and informatics, NUI Galway and Valeo’s automated parking R&D director Derek Savage: the groups have teamed up to develop technology to make self-driving vehicles safer

Researchers at NUI Galway have teamed up with motor parts group Valeo Vision Systems to develop technology to make self-driving vehicles safer.

The Connaught Automotive Research (CAR) Group, which is based on the university’s campus, is researching the development of intelligent signal processing algorithms to aid the automatic detection of pedestrians and other vehicles using cameras and other sensors.

The objective is to provide advance warning of hazards on the road and give vehicles more time to avoid a collision. Technology like this is already making its way into production and is expected to be an important feature of self-driving vehicles in the future.

Dr Edward Jones and Dr Martin Glavin, joint directors of the CAR Group recently presented their work in this area to the European Road Transport Research Advisory Committee, which is seeking to develop a common Europe-wide technology transportation platform.

The team has been collaborating with Valeo, which is one of the world’s biggest motor parts suppliers for the last 17 years. The Tuam-based firm started life as Connaught Electronics before being bought by the French-owned vision systems multinational Valeo in 2007. The company, which employs 1,200 people in Ireland, is a specialist in automotive multi-camera systems that offer advanced monitoring options for motorists such as surround view.

“A particular strength of the CAR Group is signal and image processing for a range of applications. Automotive systems is one area of focus and with the work we’re doing with Valeo we are taking information from cameras and extracting useful data from them, such as information relating to other vehicles and pedestrians,” said Dr Jones.

“The benefit of doing this is to give advance warning to drivers of hazards that they might not spot themselves or potentially in the future to allow vehicles to behave more autonomously,” he added.

Dr Jones said it was “inevitable” that such technology would make its way into vehicles and was already on its way to becoming commonplace.

“Once upon a time it was only so-called high-end vehicles that would have advanced system driving technology but it is now more available generally. The technology is becoming increasingly popular and will, over time, also become more autonomous,” he said.

“There are still a lot of things to be done before such systems are in every vehicle because the technology aspect is only one element of it all. There are wider issues to contend with such as social acceptance of autonomous vehicles as well as issues surrounding insurance, infrastructure and so on, but we’re definitely moving in that direction,” he added.

His colleague, Dr Glavin said the group has jointly filed a number of patents with Valeo arising from the collaboration over the last few years.

“Our work is being translated into real products and it is being seen to be of value to the automotive industry,” he said.

Read more: http://www.irishtimes.com/business/galway-researchers-in-push-to-make-autonomous-cars-safer-1.2596894

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Automotive retail is simple: go digital or go bust

It’s time for OEMs to catch up with the financial services and retail sectors, and make online channels work harder – for themselves and their customers, writes Foolproof’s Executive Director, Peter Ballard

The automotive industry has finally embraced the digital experience, and most brands have either launched, or are about to announce, the ability to buy new cars online. But in the race to attract online buyers, it’s crucial to not leave customers out in the cold.

The problem for consumers is that although OEMs may have ‘gone digital’, few have re-engineered the shopping journey to address the many pain points customers encounter when trying to make purchase decisions about their next car.

The issues for consumers do not relate to showroom stock, or fulfilment of online orders; they lie in the lack of support during the buying decision itself, when the majority of customers still do not feel sufficiently in control of the choices and options that manufacturers present in the car buying process.

A recent survey by Auto Trader, a UK-based digital automotive marketplace, found that the majority of consumers, 99% in fact, said they were unhappy with the current car buying process.

Clearly, consumers are more than ready for a change in approach.

Last year’s JD Power survey revealed that millennials accounted for over a quarter of new car buyers in 2015, and this number is set to rise dramatically over the coming years. Millennial buyers have grown up with digital, and bring with them the highest level of expectations for the digital experience, and a preference for subscription-based ownership models.

The automotive industry must take note of established digital practices that are now mature and commonplace in the financial services and retail sectors

Manufacturers that aim to get channels right for this user group will have the best chance of future-proofing their platforms for customers going forward.

Insight generated by Foolproof observing car buyers has highlighted that browsing online and visiting a dealer are not binary choices – consumers expect to do both during their decision-making process. Many even look forward to a trip to the dealer, and make an occasion of it, because they enjoy getting an up close, physical experience of the cars, before making a final choice.

Crucially, what most manufacturers continue to miss is the joining up of the online and offline experiences. Today, too much responsibility for that falls on the customer, asking them to bridge the gap between a website and the dealer.

Customers want to feel in control of the car buying process, and it is here that manufacturers should help them with their research online, empowering them to feel more confident when interacting with a dealer.

A case in point here is Suzuki, a vehicle manufacturer which has taken this knowledge to the heart of its digital strategy. The brand has recently re-launched its UK website to improve the experience customers have with the brand online, and in the transition from digital to the dealership. The OEM understood that customers needed an online experience that would help them make better decisions about the type and grade of car that they wanted to buy, before reaching out to a dealer.

Browsing online and visiting a dealer are not binary choices – consumers expect to do both during their decision-making process

The new Suzuki website works for multiple users, supporting the varying needs of three different potential customer profiles. The first is the buyer who relies primarily on the dealership experience, and appreciates seeing and touching the car, and talking to someone about it; the second, the online shopper, believes the Internet, not the dealer, should provide all of the information to keep them in control of the decision-making process; the third is the multi-focused shopper who likes to mix dealers’ views with independent sources.

Make better decisions faster

Better decision-making for each of these groups lies at the heart of the relaunched Suzuki website. The newly designed site helps customers narrow down their choices to find the car that is right for their needs more quickly, and with more confidence, than before.

During research, customers told Foolproof researchers that they found it difficult to understand the value of buying a more expensive version of their chosen car, when online. Most car websites provide this information over multiple pages, or long feature lists, complicating what should be a clear and easy comparison process. Suzuki has cleverly implemented a side-by-side comparison feature that visually differentiates which key features become available, as the price increases.

It has become clear that overly-complicated car configurators are a major turn off-for many customers. For this reason, the decision to simplify this function was the first part of the design challenge. Suzuki’s new ‘Send to Dealer’ button enables customers to easily send their choices to a local dealer, prior to booking a meeting or a test drive.

Manufacturers that aim to get channels right for millennials will have the best chance of future-proofing their platforms for customers going forward

Not only does this feature bridge the gap between customer and dealer, but it has also improved one of the more arduous tasks in buying a car, namely the test drive booking.

Many commentators have questioned whether the new showrooming approach, trialled by some manufactures in retail outlets, will be the death of the test drive. Auto Trader’s study, however, suggests that test-drives will continue to play an important role in the car buying process: “88% of consumers said they would not purchase a car without test-driving it first.”

However, 80% of consumers also said they would welcome a different test-drive experience from the traditional accompanied test-drive model that predominantly exists today.

In the future, we can expect the booking of a test drive to be as easy as making a restaurant reservation. Customers will be able to book a test drive through their chosen dealer, selecting date, time and model from an online diary.

The future of ownership

Automated scheduling and booking of test drives is one development that will hugely benefit dealers by reducing the amount of time it takes to make booking arrangements with customers. Piloting this new functionality, in addition to continually learning from this initial implementation, will allow manufacturers to pave the way for other future innovation that could use digital channels to streamline the online vehicle buying experience.

For example, car manufacturers are expected to develop more subscription models to help consumers ‘rent’ rather than ‘own’ their car. This will go beyond the traditional personal contract purchase and hire purchase arrangements, and could include monthly subscription fees giving access to a range of cars that customers can book in advance. Date night on Friday? Book the two-door sports model. Carpool to football training every other Wednesday? Book the spacious minivan. Planning a drive on country roads? Book the SUV.

And the winner is…

The automotive industry must take note of established digital practices that are now mature and commonplace in the financial services and retail sectors. These industries have long since discovered the value and importance of experience design, product design, and service design methodologies to help create frictionless, elegant, and truly engaging digital experiences for their customers. The top brands in these sectors understand that customer experience is the best way to differentiate and create a lasting competitive advantage.

Those automotive players that adopt the same principles, as they move in to this improved digital phase, are the ones that will take the lead over their competitors.

Read more: http://www.automotiveworld.com/analysis/automotive-retail-simple-go-digital-go-bust/

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Karma airs first TV commercial for Revero plug-in hybrid

Karma Automotive, of Costa Mesa, Calif., is owned by Chinese automotive supplier Wanxiang Group.
Karma Automotive aired its first TV commercial on Sunday, ahead of the start of deliveries of the Chinese-owned automaker’s $130,000 Revero car this month.

A Karma spokeswoman said she didn’t have a definitive date on when deliveries of the plug-in hybrid Revero will begin, but she said it “most likely” will be the second half of May. She couldn’t specify how many vehicles will be delivered, only that a “very low volume” will be sold in 2017, so “not many” will be delivered this month.

Karma, formerly known as Fisker Automotive Inc., previously said it will sell through independent dealerships and company-owned “brand-experience centers.” Karma has eight U.S. sales and service dealerships: one each in Illinois, Texas, Michigan, Georgia, Pennsylvania and California and two in Florida.

The 30-second TV spot, called “Delivery,” aired on CBS during the 2017 U.S. Open Polo Championship, for which Karma is a sponsor. The commercial featured Revero deliveries to waterfront mansions in Florida and California.

“The spot marks the rebirth of one of the most honored silhouettes in automotive history,” Karma Chief Revenue Officer Jim Taylor said in a statement. “We felt this moment in time deserved to be recognized.”

The Revero is Karma’s first model. It is priced at $130,000.

Karma Automotive, of Costa Mesa, Calif., is owned by Chinese automotive supplier Wanxiang Group.

Read more: http://www.autonews.com/article/20170504/RETAIL03/170509895/karma-airs-first-tv-commercial-for-revero-plug-in-hybrid

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