Telematics challenge: Capable but simple
Vicki Poponi of Honda: “We are constrained by cycle development time.”
ORLANDO -- Telematics systems run the risk of becoming too complicated and distracting, yet they also can become outdated well before the vehicle's life is complete.
So said a panel at the J.D. Power International Automotive Roundtable here.
"We are constrained by cycle development time," said Vicki Poponi, American Honda assistant vice president of product development. Smartphone "systems can be ready in nine months. But people are holding on to cars for 11 years."
That's why Honda created a cloud-based system to update telematics software over the air. "You can throw away an iPhone 4, but you can't do it with the capital investment of a car," Poponi said.
Mike VanNieuwkuyk, J.D. Power's executive director of global vehicle research, said most consumers don't know what they want from their vehicle's telematics system, and automakers must draw the line.
"Consumers love the value, but if you make it too complex, it doesn't matter how great it is because they'll stop using it," VanNieuwkuyk said.
Despite the lure of having "dumb" display terminals in a car linked to smartphones, Hyundai decided embedded, integrated vehicle telematics is better, said Barry Ratzlaff, who directs telematics for Hyundai Motor America.
"In-vehicle diagnostics are more robust" and "can take a vehicle diagnostics snapshot, contact a dealer that it's time for maintenance, and the customer can schedule an appointment," Ratzlaff said.
But telematics can be too much to demonstrate in one sitting, said James Dunn, general manager of JM Lexus in Margate, Fla. JM Lexus created the position of "mobile genius," someone who goes to a customer's home or office to explain technology.
"When you ask a customer in the dealership if they 'get it,' they always say, 'Yes,'" Dunn said. "The phone calls come later."
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