Dealer Bob Procita has invested most of his high-tech dollars in backroom functions, leaving his showroom looking - well, a little dated.
But a new computer kiosk developed by DaimlerChrysler's Chrysler Group sales and marketing staff will help bring the appearance of his front room into the 21st century, he said.
Procita, part owner of Donald Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge, in Lincoln-ton, N.C., predicted that the Vehicle Information Center, displayed at the NADA convention as a prototype, likely will account for two more new-car sales per month.
'This will make our customers look at us as more high-tech thinking,' Procita said.
DaimlerChrysler dealerships currently feature a kiosk festooned with posters touting product features. But the posters are out of date as soon as they are printed, said Bill Hines, kiosk communications manager.
The information center is a black, portable unit with a built-in computer. The machines are built by Visual Productions Inc. in Troy, Mich. Hines is testing two variations of the system, one a touch-screen model and the other a point-and-click version.
Product information is encoded on a CD and is updated quarterly.
The center is expected to cost about $4,000 and will be available in fall, Hines said.
Customers navigate through the system by choosing a particular brand, then clicking on a certain vehicle within the lineup. Information on safety systems, performance and styling are available.
Dealers may provide information only on the brands they sell, Hines said.
The new kiosk will not offer a printout of the information, or provide information about pricing and incentives, Hines said. The information center is designed primarily for in-house use.
The kiosk will lend an air of credibility to the sales process, Hines said, adding: 'People will believe this system probably more than they'll believe the salesman.'